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
- Sweet Bell Peppers
The 2017 Clean Fifteen
- Sweet Corn*
- Sweet peas frozen
- Honeydew Melon
*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.
- Simple Seedy Slaw
- Sesame Ginger Sautéed Cabbage & Carrots
- Vegan Cabbage Soup
- Vegan Cabbage Rolls with Tomato Sauce
- Garlic Rubbed Roasted Cabbage Steaks
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”.
- Mashed Cauliflower
- Cauliflower Rice
- Vegan Cauliflower Pizza Crust
- Healthy Cauliflower Buffalo Bites
- Cauliflower Steaks with Lemon-Herb Sauce
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.
- Orange Pineapple Smoothies
- Simple and Sweet Mango Chia Pudding
- Melon Fruit Salad with Honey Lime Mint Dressing
- Broiled Grapefruit
- Kiwi Avocado Salsa
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.