A Cheat Sheet For What You Should Buy Organic

By Dana Poblete
Organic Cheat Sheet_Feature

Every time you sip a berry smoothie or eat a fresh green salad, you're doing yourself a huge favor. Fruits and veggies are the crown jewels of clean eating. Since they're packed with water and digestion-friendly fiber, they're naturally detoxifying. Not to mention many of them (we're lookin' at you, bluebs and leafy greens!) are loaded with antioxidants that neutralize cell-damaging free radicals; this keeps your body functioning at its best, which also means it can cleanse itself of toxins more easily. But if you choose non-organic produce, are you setting yourself up for an immediate retox? Here's the deal: In 2014, the U.S. Department of Agriculture tested 6,953 samples of produce and found that nearly three-quarters of them contained pesticides—even after they'd been washed. But what's so bad about pesticides, anyway? Studies have shown that exposure to some of these chemicals can cause nausea, cramps, diarrhea, dizziness, anxiety, confusion, and even respiratory problems, depression, memory disorders, neurological conditions, miscarriage, birth defects, and cancer. Eek! OK, so basically, organic fruits and vegetables are preferable, especially if you're trying to detox. But higher production costs can make them 10 to 40 percent more expensive than conventionally-grown produce. That ain't cheap! Fortunately, the Environmental Working Group makes it easy to figure out what you should buy organic and what you can let slide. Each year they release two lists: the Dirty Dozen and the Clean Fifteen. Here's your cheat sheet.

The Dirty Dozen

The Dirty Dozen are the fruits and veggies that are most likely to be contaminated with pesticide residue. The higher their ranking, the more pesticides are lurking in them. Strawberries top the list because USDA tests found that 98 percent of non-organic strawberries harbored pesticides, and 40 percent had over 10 different types of pesticides. (In addition to the dozen, EWG added hot peppers and greens, which often contain insecticides toxic to the human nervous system.)

  1. Strawberries
  2. Apples
  3. Nectarines
  4. Peaches
  5. Celery
  6. Grapes
  7. Cherries
  8. Spinach
  9. Tomatoes
  10. Sweet bell peppers
  11. Cherry tomatoes
  12. Cucumbers

+Hot peppers +Kale and collard greens

The Clean Fifteen

The Clean Fifteen are the fruits and veggies that you can get away with buying conventional. The top-ranked foods are the most pristine. (Whew—avocados are fair game, so guac won't be that much extra!)

  1. Avocados
  2. Sweet corn
  3. Pineapples
  4. Cabbage
  5. Sweet peas (frozen)
  6. Onions
  7. Asparagus
  8. Mangos
  9. Papayas
  10. Kiwis
  11. Eggplant
  12. Honeydew melon
  13. Grapefruit
  14. Cantaloupe
  15. Cauliflower

Notice a few of your faves missing from these lists? Go here to see the full rankings.