Dirty Dozen and Clean Fifteen

July 14, 2017 / Food


Looking around at the grocery store, you’ll notice that the price of every single piece of organic produce is more expensive than its conventional counterpart … even when that conventional counterpart is coming from Mexico and your organic produce is coming from a local farm. Why is that exactly?


  1. Organic produce usually is grown on a small scale. So, there is less yield each season.  
  2. Organic produce is more work and requires more labor because farmers aren’t using chemicals, hormones, and pesticides to aid in growing their produce.
  3. It takes longer to grow each crop because they again aren’t using any hormones to speed up the process.
  4. There are no government subsidies for organic produce. Most of the money the government issues goes to corn, soy, and wheat.
  5. The demand for organic produce is growing, driving the price up.
  6. USDA certification is expensive to get and maintain.
  7. Higher scale living conditions are required for organic livestock.


So, we know that buying more organic food is better for us but does all the produce we buy have to be organic? The answer is no. There are certain fruits and vegetables that don’t require as much chemicals, hormones, or pesticides to grow, making the non-organic produce safer to eat. So, you can save more money for the produce you will always want to buy organic. Ladies and gentlemen, I introduce you to the Dirty Dozen and the Clean Fifteen.


Dirty Dozen

These are the fruits and vegetables you should always buy organic because they are either grown with the highest amounts of pesticides, chemicals, and hormones or they absorb the most during their growth cycle. This means they have the most chemical residue at the time of purchase.




Cherry Tomatoes


Grapes (Imported)




Snap Peas



Sweet Bell Peppers

Bonus: Hot Peppers, Kale, and Collard Greens

**These three all depend on the season and where they are produced ***

Clean Fifteen

These are the fruits and vegetables that have the least amount of chemicals and pesticides used during the growth process or they absorb the least. You will notice that most of these vegetables have outer shells that you don’t consume or you discard, which makes them safer to eat and protects them from chemicals. So, feel free to save some money and buy conventional with these!














Sweet Corn

Sweet Peas (Frozen)

Sweet Potatoes


Ways to avoid the higher prices:


  1. Shop as local as possible; the less food has to travel, the cleaner and fresher it will be.
  2. Get to know your farmers. If farmers see more of demand for organic produce in their area, they will follow the money. This will help keep costs down.
  3. Avoid the middleman and buy directly from your farmer.
  4. Shop what is in season.
  5. Support your local food system by becoming members at your local co-op or food share. ***They even do cow and pig shares now!*** So find your friends and sign up!