How to Shop Organic on a Budget – The 2017 Dirty Dozen and Clean Fifteen

How to Shop Organic on a Budget – The 2017 Dirty Dozen and Clean Fifteen

If you want to reduce your exposure to pesticides and remove genetically modified foods from your diet, shopping organic is the best way to do so. Unfortunately though, organic produce can be significantly more expensive than conventional produce. In this post, I’m going to give you some quick tips on how you can save money shopping organic, and it all starts with the dirty dozen and the clean fifteen.

If you haven’t heard of them before, the dirty dozen1 and the clean fifteen2 are lists that are put out each year by the Environmental Working Group (EWG). Through a series of tests, the dirty dozen list is developed to tell shoppers which twelve fruits and vegetables have the highest amounts of pesticides residue. They’re listed from most to least, and the lists are updated and changed each year according to test results. The clean fifteen represents the exact opposite, giving shoppers a list of the fifteen cleanest foods that contain the least amount of pesticide residue. With this information you can save money and still reduce your pesticide exposure by purchasing the dirty dozen crops as organic produce, and the clean fifteen as conventional.

Recently the EWG  released the 2017 dirty dozen and clean fifteen, and here’s what they told us:

The 2017 Dirty Dozen

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

The 2017 Clean Fifteen

  1. Sweet Corn*
  2. Avocado
  3. Pineapple
  4. Cabbage
  5. Onions
  6. Sweet peas frozen
  7. Papayas*
  8. Asparagus
  9. Mangos
  10. Eggplant
  11. Honeydew Melon
  12. Kiwi
  13. Cantaloupe
  14. Cauliflower
  15. Grapefruit

*Sweet corn and papayas sold in the United States may be produced from genetically modified seeds. Opt for organic to avoid genetically modified produce.

3 Tips for Saving Money on Organic Produce

Using the dirty dozen and clean fifteen lists to guide your grocery shopping and help you determine what to buy organic or conventional can be super helpful. However, if you’re someone who eats a lot of the produce listed on the dirty dozen, you’re still going to spending a lot of money on organic food. Here are a few more tips to help you keep your grocery bill down while reducing your exposure to pesticides.

1. Make simple swaps

If your diet contains a lot of heavily sprayed fruits and veggies from the dirty dozen, try swapping out some of your regular meals with alternatives using ingredients from the clean fifteen. Here’s a few examples and recipes to make the trade easier:

If you eat a lot of spinach in salads or as a side dish, try swapping it with cabbage. You can make delicious healthy salads with it, sauté it as a side dish, or make cabbage soup. Check out these recipes for some inspiration.

If you love mashed potatoes or roasted potatoes, try swapping in cauliflower. Cauliflower is easily one of the most versatile veggies you can eat. It makes a delicious mash to rival traditional mashed potatoes, but you can also make it into “rice”, pizza crust or even veggie “wings”.

If you typically reach for the fruits on the dirty dozen list, like apples, peaches, pears or strawberries, mix things up and try some other types of fruit. Mango, pineapple, kiwi and melon on the clean fifteen are all equally delicious. Chop them up for a fruit salad, add them to smoothies, or just eat them alone for a snack.

2. Buy frozen

If you want to reduce the cost of organics even more, try buying frozen organic fruits and veggies. Most of the time the amount of organic product that you’ll get in a frozen package will end up costing less than it would for the same amount of fresh produce. Frozen produce is also usually frozen at peak freshness so it can actually preserve some the nutrition that gets lost in fresh produce during travel and storage.

3. Shop seasonally

Seasonal fruits and vegetables in general are more affordable than imported produce that’s not in season. The same rule of thumb applies to organic produce. Shop your local farmer’s markets for good seasonal prices on organic fruits and vegetables. If it’s in season, chances are, it’ll taste better too.

Chew on this

If the price tag of organic produce tends to make you look the other way, think of it as an investment for your health. The pesticides found on conventional produce can be destructive to the balance and diversity of the bacteria living in your gut microbiome. This gut bacteria is essential for the healthy functioning of your digestive system, immune system and overall detoxification. Organic produce is also grown sustainably meaning it’s a better choice for the environment that we live in.

Do you shop organic? If so, what are your tips for cutting costs? Tell us in the comments below.


2017-06-21T13:08:58+00:00 March 23rd, 2017|Nutrition|

About the Author:

For over 20 years Dr. Tick has dedicated herself to researching evidence-based holistic treatments for pain and inflammation. A multiple-book author, including the highly acclaimed Holistic Pain Relief - An In-Depth Guide to Managing Chronic Pain, Dr. Tick empowers her patients to live free of pain and full of life. She is the first holder of the prestigious Gunn-Loke Endowed Professorship of Integrative Pain Medicine at the University of Washington and a Clinical Associate Professor at the University of Washington in the departments of Family Medicine and Anesthesiology & Pain Medicine.

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