The Dirty Dozen vs. The Clean Fifteen

This is where it all begins, right? We’ll be sharing some short-but-sweet frugal shopping tips and principles here from time to time.

What I want to chat about a bit today is how to buy organic – frugally. Yes, frugally! We’ve all heard much about the benefits of going organic as much as possible, and it’s something I strive for in my own life as much as I can. But isn’t it terribly expensive? How can we justify it on a budget, much less actually do it? Isn’t it an indulgence?

Well, as to the first, yes, the price of organic produce is generally higher than its conventionally grown counterparts, but one thing to think about is the fact that all organic food is not created equal.  that is to say, there are certain foods that are much more important to buy organic than others, whereas there are some items that aren’t too affected by non-organic methods. You may have heard of the “Dirty Dozen”; here it is:

Apples
Cherries
Grapes, imported (Chili)
Nectarines
Peaches
Pears
Raspberries
Strawberries
Bell peppers
Celery
Potatoes
Spinach

All of the above are the most likely to be seriously contaminated by toxic chemicals and pesticides. On the other hand, there is a flip side to the Dirty Dozen, also known as the Clean Fifteen:

Asparagus
Mango
Avocados
Onions
Bananas*
Papaya
Blueberries
Pineapple
Broccoli
Shelling peas
Cabbage
Sweet corn
Garlic
Watermelon
Kiwi

For these items, there actually isn’t much advantage to using pesticides , and even when not grown organically, they consistently test negative for toxins. So save your money by purchasing the conventional varieties of these items! So by prioritizing which fruits and vegetables are essential to buy organic and which aren’t, you get all the benefits of eating organic and can still save on the rest.

Here’s a very handy printable shopping guide to take with you to the store – a very helpful reference when you’re first getting used to remembering which is which.

*I would still recommend getting Fair Trade bananas, due to human rights issues (nothing to do with toxins).

— posted by Anne

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