A Budget-Friendly Guide to Buying Organic Produce

 Living a greener lifestyle doesn't always come cheap, especially when it involves your grocery shopping. However, the Environmental Working Group (EWG) has a cost-effective way to navigate through this organic journey. They have curated a comprehensive list of fruits and vegetables that are deemed safe to buy non-organic, known as the "Clean Fifteen," and those that are better to buy organic, termed the "Dirty Dozen." Here's a dive-in to help you choose wisely, keeping your health and wallet in check.

The Clean Fifteen

The EWG's Clean Fifteen is a list of produce that is found to have the lowest levels of pesticide residue. While we advocate for organic produce, these are safe to procure in their non-organic varieties if your budget doesn't extend to entirely organic shopping.

Please note that this is just a guide, and the emphasis should be on consuming more fruits and vegetables in your diet, regardless of the following classifications.

 EWG's Clean Fifteen

  1. Avocados
  2. Sweet Corn
  3. Pineapple
  4. Onions
  5. Papaya
  6. Sweet Peas (Frozen)
  7. Asparagus
  8. Honeydew Melon
  9. Kiwi
  10. Cabbage
  11. Mushrooms
  12. Mangoes
  13. Sweet Potatoes
  14. Watermelon
  15. Carrots
Note: While on the "Clean Fifteen" list, a small amount of sweet corn, papaya, and summer squash sold in the United States comes from genetically modified seeds. If you wish to avoid genetically modified produce, consider buying organic options for these specific crops.

The Dirty Dozen

Contrary to the Clean Fifteen, EWG's Dirty Dozen comprises produce that contains significantly higher levels of pesticide residue. If your budget allows, these are the fruits and vegetables that are better to buy organic, as the benefits oftentimes seize over the cost.

EWG's Dirty Dozen

  1. Strawberries
  2. Spinach
  3. Kale, collard, & mustard greeens
  4. Peaches
  5. Pears
  6. Nectarines
  7. Apples
  8. Grapes
  9. Bell & hot peppers
  10. Cherries
  11. Blueberries
  12. Green beans

Transitioning to a fully organic lifestyle right away can be steep, so utilizing this list to prioritize where your organic dollars go can be extremely beneficial.

Budget-Friendly Grocery Shopping

Here’s a strategy to consider: For a budget-friendly grocery shopping, buy non-organic for the "Clean Fifteen" and organic for the "Dirty Dozen." This way, you're getting the most out of your money by ensuring you're ingesting fewer pesticides where it counts the most while still maintaining a reasonable budget.

To conclude, while organic is generally better, it's not always feasible to buy everything organic due to financial constraints. The critical measure here is to balance. Utilizing resources such as the EWG's lists helps make informed decisions best suited for your health and your budget. So next time you're at your local grocery store or farmer's market, keep these lists in mind. Prioritize your health without damaging your budget!

Happy, healthy shopping!


Environmental Working Group (EWG). (n.d.). EWG’s 2022 Shopper’s Guide to Pesticides in Produce. Retrieved from https://www.ewg.org/foodnews/full-list.php

December 05, 2023