The Dirty Dozen

The Dirty Dozen is a trademark term utilized to define the twelve crops that farmers typically use the most pesticides on. 

2020’s dirty dozen produce list included:

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

Where does the data come from? 

This information comes from The United States Department of Agriculture Pesticide Data Program. More information can be found here:

What does this mean?

It’s important to consider purchasing organic fruit and vegetables when possible, but more importantly to properly clean all of your produce, especially the ‘dirty dozen’ listed above. I try to buy organic when I can, but it’s nearly impossible and not cost effective to buy solely organic. If fresh, organic produce is too expensive, frozen organic foods come at a much better price point and last a very long time. Plus, frozen items are typically picked and then flash-frozen at its peak nutritional value. Whether your fruits and vegetables are organic or conventional, they still need to be washed. 

Keep in mind, washing produce doesn’t necessarily get rid of all potential pesticides and chemicals as it grows into the entire plant, but it can reduce your risk and exposure. Below are some tips to properly wash your produce. 

  • Wash your hands before and after preparing fresh produce
  • Mix a solution of 3-parts cold water to 1-part white vinegar in a clean sink or bowl.
  • Once you’ve mixed the vinegar solution, add your fruits and vegetables to it and let them soak for a few minutes. Then, rinse them clean with running water for a few seconds.
  • Make sure to thoroughly dry all produce before storing it. Bacteria and other germs love a damp environment and you don’t want to encourage it to grow back on the produce you just cleaned.
  • For delicate produce, once it’s been rinsed, allow it to drain in a colander and then spread it in a single layer on a tray or baking sheet lined with paper towels.

Don’t want to make your own cleaning solution? You can find natural, organic cleaning solutions to ease the burden while cleaning your fruits and veggies. Check out these products below to use in the kitchen to help with cleaning other fruits/vegetables. Please note, I will receive a small commission from affiliate links with the items bought below. 

Stainless Steel Colander Strainer

Ring Fruit and Vegetable Cleaning Brush

Natural Vegetable Brush

Wooden Brush Set 

All Natural Fruit and Vegetable Wash

Organic Fruit and Vegetable Cleaner

Certified Organic Cotton Flour Sack Towels

On the contrary, there is a ‘Clean Fifteen’ list of fruits/vegetables that are considered the least contaminated and are safer to purchase conventionally. The ‘clean fifteen’ include:

  1. Avocado
  2. Sweet corn
  3. Pineapple
  4. Onions
  5. Papaya
  6. Sweet peas
  7. Eggplant
  8. Asparagus
  9. Cauliflower
  10. Cantaloupe
  11. Broccoli
  12. Mushroom
  13. Cabbage 
  14. Honeydew
  15. Kiwi 

I hope this inspires you to be mindful of the produce we’re buying, and reminds you to clean those veggies! But please don’t let the dirty dozen list deter you from eating produce if it isn’t organic. Conventionally grown fruits and vegetables still have nutritional benefits and the vitamins, minerals and antioxidants are essential. At the end of the day, eating enough fruits and vegetables is most important, whether it is organic or conventionally grown. Comment below with any questions & I hope you have a wonderful day! 


2 comments on “The Dirty Dozen

  1. Jane Wong

    Hopefully, one day I will be able to commit the dirty dozen and clean fifteen to memory. Until then, I will have this saved on my phone for grocery shopping. So helpful! 🙌🏼Thank you Marissa

  2. Jeff Joss

    great post Marissa!

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