There are obvious benefits to buying organic produce—like lowering your exposure to pesticides and chemicals that can potentially harm your body. While buying exclusively organic fruit might seem like a simple solution, it’ll burn a huge hole through your wallet. Buying organic can be expensive, so if you’re on a budget, it can be helpful to know which fruits and vegetable you should buy organic. The Environmental Working Group, a nonprofit organization, studied data from the United States Department of Agriculture and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration about the amount of pesticide residue left on conventional fruits and vegetables after being washed. The EWG compiled a list of organic fruits and vegetables called the “Dirty Dozen” that are believed to have the highest pesticide exposures. They’ve also designated the types of produce that are least likely to have pesticide residue, labeling them the “Clean Fifteen.”
Navigating the grocery store can be a daunting task, at least for me. Plain LaCroix or lemon? Red wine or white? Ben & Jerry’s Red Velvet or Cookies & Cream Cheesecake Core? (The answer is both.) These are difficult decisions, and the ongoing debate between organic vs. inorganic, GMO vs. non-GMO, and organic vs non-GMO doesn’t make it any easier. But knowing the EWG’s shopper’s guide and learning which fruits and vegetables are worth the splurge and which are not is helpful when eating organic on a budget.
The Dirty Dozen
Porous foods tend to hold the most pesticide residue. Here are 12 fruits and vegetables you should always buy organic.
10. Bell peppers
11. Cherry tomatoes
The Clean Fifteen
Foods with protective outer layers tend to hold less pesticide residue, so it’s OK to buy its conventional alternative. Here are 15 fruits and vegetables that, according to the EWG, you don’t need to purchase organic.