The Top 14 Fruits and Veggies to Buy Organic

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The Environmental Working Group has released its 2013 list of The Dirty Dozen Plus and The Clean Fifteen.

The suggestions given by EWG are based strictly on the levels of contamination from pesticide.  The Clean 15 list does contain items that are potentially genetically modified, so you must be aware of this fact when shopping, as I recommend strict avoidance of GMOs.  Field corn and nearly all papayas from Hawaii are genetically modified.  Some varieties of sweet corn, tomatoes,  and zucchini are also genetically modified.

By purchasing your produce locally as much as possible, you can learn more about the source of your fruits and vegetables, and whether or not they were from GMO seeds.  you can find a very comprehensive directory of local farms, co-ops and CSAs across the country HERE.

The Environmental Protection Agency warns that the ingestion of pesticides can cause health problems such as “birth defects, nerve damage, cancer, and other effects that might occur over a long period of time.”  Especially at risk of harm from pesticides are children.

Infants and children may be especially sensitive to health risks posed by pesticides for several reasons:

  • their internal organs are still developing and maturing,
  • in relation to their body weight, infants and children eat and drink more than adults, possibly increasing their exposure to pesticides in food and water.
  • certain behaviors–such as playing on floors or lawns or putting objects in their mouths–increase a child’s exposure to pesticides used in homes and yards.

Pesticides may harm a developing child by blocking the absorption of important food nutrients necessary for normal healthy growth. Another way pesticides may cause harm is if a child’s excretory system is not fully developed, the body may not fully remove pesticides. Also, there are “critical periods” in human development when exposure to a toxin can permanently alter the way an individual’s biological system operates. (source)

The website What’s On My Food takes a stronger stance than the EPA regarding the risks of pesticides.

The human health impacts linked to pesticide exposure range from birth defects and childhood brain cancer in the very young, to Parkinsons’ Disease in the elderly. In between are a variety of other cancers, developmental and neurological disorders, reproductive and hormonal system disruptions, and more.

  • Autism
  • Breast Cancer
  • Children’s diseases
  • Endosulfan
  • Gestational diabetes
  • Parkinson’s Disease

The Dirty Dozen this year is actually the Dirty Dozen Plus, since there were two extra items that needed to take the walk of shame.  The items on this list have high pesticide loads and  should be purchased organic if at all possible

  1. Apples
  2. Celery
  3. Cherry Tomatoes
  4. Cucumbers
  5. Grapes
  6. Hot Peppers
  7. Nectarines (imported)
  8. Peaches
  9. Potatoes
  10. Spinach
  11. Strawberries
  12. Sweet Bell Peppers
  13. Kale/Collard Greens
  14. Summer Squash

On the bright side, there is another list.  If you are on a budget and can’t get everything organic, these conventionally grown items are relatively safe choices:

  1. Asparagus
  2. Avocados
  3. Cabbage
  4. Cantaloupe
  5. Sweet Corn (not to be confused with potentially GMO canned corn)
  6. Eggplant
  7. Grapefruit
  8. Kiwi
  9. Mangoes
  10. Mushrooms
  11. Onions
  12. Papayas
  13. Pineapples
  14. Sweet Peas
  15. Sweet Potatoes

You can download The Shopper’s Guide to Pesticides in Produce™ HERE.

The EWG ranks 48 produce items from most pesticide to least pesticide HERE.

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Daisy Luther

Daisy Luther is a coffee-swigging, globe-trotting blogger. She is the founder and publisher of three websites.  1) The Organic Prepper, which is about current events, preparedness, self-reliance, and the pursuit of liberty on her website, 2)  The Frugalite, a website with thrifty tips and solutions to help people get a handle on their personal finances without feeling deprived, and 3), an aggregate site where you can find links to all the most important news for those who wish to be prepared. She is widely republished across alternative media and  Daisy is the best-selling author of 5 traditionally published books and runs a small digital publishing company with PDF guides, printables, and courses. You can find her on FacebookPinterest, Gab, MeWe, Parler, Instagram, and Twitter.

Leave a Reply

  • Good article Daisy
    I try real hard to grow organic vegetables. One of the problems I have found is getting seeds that are garenteed GMO free. Just like processed food there are no labeling requirements. Buying locally doesn’t seem to be of any help because most distributors and even growers do not know the origins of their seeds. And a lot of them do not care. Keep up the good work Daisy and Peace.

  • I notice that sweet corn is on the clean 15 list. Wouldn’t that be commercial sweet corn, GMO corn? If so, doesn’t it contain its own self-generated pesticides, as well as being genetically harmful to all animal life, like French lab rats and humans everywhere?

    • Northern Nature – I questioned this as well. When I looked it up, very little sweet corn is GMO. I believe that it is referring to fresh corn. Bt Corn is referred to generically as “field corn”.

      I am still personally quite leery of corn if I don’t grow it myself.


  • I thought so too. I thought that all corn with the exception of pop-corn is GMO. There is also another one on the list that is GMO and that’s papaya (I think if it is grown in Hawaii… but may be mixing it up with something else).
    So, what’s the scoop?

    I also have another thing to report. I cut up cabbage (which is on a good list) and just stored it in the fridge – the next day it had a very strong bitter flavor. I was curious about this, so tried it with organic cabbage and the effect was not there. This makes me think that it was pesticides that do not show up when you first process the cabbage, but do show themselves as it sits. I’m of course not sure, but that is my theory at least.

  • This is great info, thank you. It makes me look differently at the apples I have sitting in my desk drawer for snacks!

  • I would love to know where Broccoli lies – safe as an unorganic or no?

    My pediatrician, who is a big believer in natural remedies and health, says broccoli is relatively safe as a non-organic food. I keep reading though, that it’s one of those we should avoid as a non-organic food.

    Any opinions?

    • Kim – This list is from an organization that concerns itself with pesticides and herbicides only, so it is specifically regarding the pesticide loads and has nothing to do with GMOs. You’re absolutely right about corn and papaya – I’m not sure about pineapple. I won’t purchase those items conventionally either because I am avoiding GMOs as scrupulously as I am avoiding pesticides.

      Best wishes ~


  • Thank you for the lists – I keep these handy as I shop. We’ve gone to organic as much as possible, which is not too hard for us since we live in a farming area. Our local supermarkets usually have a fair selection as well although the prices are higher. This seems to be making a difference in my overall health. I offer one caution, though: please be careful about drawing lines to the prevention or cause of specific diseases or conditions unless you can provide solid references to back them up. It’s not enough to report anecdotal accounts that imply a relationship.

    • Check the payayas I bet they are gmo as f*ck I’m from big island and we are on the words boycott list. I just don’t buy them anymore

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