June 18, 2018

Save Money on Organic Produce: Use the “Dirty Dozen” and “Clean Fifteen” Lists!

Sep 1, 2011

More and more people are becoming aware of the excessive use of pesticides on produce and are choosing to buy organic varieties. There is a drawback though – organic produce is expensive!

I have found that the only way we can afford organic produce is to pick and choose the varieties which are more important to buy organic. To make my decision, I use the Dirty Dozen and Clean Fifteen lists.

The “Dirty Dozen” list includes the varieties of produce that contain the highest levels of pesticides. If you just buy these 12 organic items, it will not only save you money but greatly reduce the amount of pesticides you ingest.

2011 Dirty Dozen list:

1. apples
2. celery
3. strawberries
4. peaches
5. spinach
6. nectarines
7. grapes
8. bell peppers
9. potatoes
10. blueberries
11. lettuce
12. kale

The “Clean Fifteen” list includes the varieties of produce that contain the lowest levels of pesticides. Save some money and buy the conventional (non-organic) varieties of these fruits and vegetables.

2011 Clean Fifteen list:

1. onions
2. sweet corn
3. pineapples
4. avocado
5. asparagus
6. sweet peas
7. mangoes
8. eggplant
9. cantaloupe
10. kiwi
11. cabbage
12. watermelon
13. sweet potatoes
14. grapefruit
15. mushrooms

I find it really hard to remember which items are clean and which are dirty when I get to the store. A good rule of thumb is if you eat the skin (berries, apples, leafy greens) – buy organic. If it has a skin you peel (bananas, onions, watermelon) – buy conventional. It doesn’t always apply, but it helps in a pinch.

You can also print and carry this Dirty Dozen/Clean Fifteen Printable List with you to help you remember!

Do you buy organic only, conventional only, or a mix of the two?


  1. The iPhone has a free app “Dirty Dozen” that lists the dirty dozen and the clean fifteen. I just pull it out in the grocery store if I forget. It is great!

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