March 9, 2020

buying organic

Which fruits and vegetables offer the best bang for your buck?

Charles Goodin
March 9, 2020

If you’re like us, you’d love to consume produce grown exclusively on organic farms. Not only is organic produce free of harmful pesticide residues and more nutritionally dense, but organic farms frequently use heirloom seed stock, which often produces a more diverse and nuanced range of flavors than standard supermarket fare.

Unfortunately, not everyone has the opportunity to choose an organic option, whether due to geographical constraints or financial limitations. Given these obstacles, health conscious consumers might be interested to know which fruits and vegetables benefit most from being grown with organic methods — and which can safely be eschewed in favor of their non-organic alternatives.

If that sounds like you, the Environmental Working Group is here to help. Each year, the organization produces two lists: a ‘Dirty Dozen’ index of conventionally raised fruits and vegetables which contain the highest concentration of pesticide residues, and a ‘Clean Fifteen’ which are more resilient to the harmful aspects of large-scale, mass-market farming.

Here are EWG’s lists from 2019:


  1. Strawberries
  2. Spinach
  3. Kale
  4. Nectarines
  5. Apples
  6. Grapes
  7. Peaches
  8. Cherries
  9. Pears
  10. Tomatoes
  11. Celery
  12. Potatoes


  1. Avocados
  2. Sweet Corn
  3. Pineapples
  4. Sweet Peas
  5. Onions
  6. Papayas
  7. Eggplant
  8. Asparagus
  9. Kiwi
  10. Cabbage
  11. Cauliflower
  12. Cantaloupe
  13. Broccoli
  14. Mushrooms
  15. Honeydew

Although the exact reasons for including each fruit and vegetables on their respective list vary, there is a pretty intuitive theme: produce that lacks a hard, removable skin (or that is frequently consumed skin-on) is more likely to make the ‘dirty’ list. Considering pesticides are generally applied via topical spray, it makes sense that higher concentrations of pesticide residues would be found in these fruits and vegetables as opposed to their more well-protected brethren.

Of course, the simplest solution to keeping your diet free of unwanted chemicals is to grow your own food — something that’s achievable regardless of where you live or how much spare room you have. In future posts, we’ll break down how this can be done in all manner of living situations, so keep your eye on the Johnny Appleseed blog for more information on creating your personal approach to healthy, sustainable and holistic food cultivation.

Is affordable organic produce readily available in your area? Has circumstance forced you to compromise your preferred purchasing habits? Share your story with us and let’s continue the conversation.


Charles Goodin

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