Monday, April 14, 2014

Money Saving Tips - Produce TO NOT Buy Organic

Spring Produce

Finally, it IS and FEELS like Spring!  I love being out watching spring sports and everyone in their yards spring cleaning inside and out.  Folks are trying to shed their "winter coats" and are prepping their soil for gardening.  It's also the time of year when people are trying to make a more conscious effort to get into shape and de-clutter their bodies from the winter hibernation.  Vegetables and fruit are often on top of mind!

As a Nutrition Coach, naturally I recommend local, organic, and seasonal produce where possible.  I often hear from my clients that the cost of organic food can be too overwhelming.  Until the food industry changes, I agree!  I share this sentiment.  I'm a Mom first and foremost running a household like you on a budget.  I can't and don't buy everything organic, but I do adhere to certain guidelines based upon my research of where I can and cannot make concessions.

Lucky for us, there ARE some things we can do to ease the cost of organic; one of those things is to recognize that not ALL of your produce needs to be organic.

The Environmental Working Group has deemed something known as "The Dirty Dozen" and "The Clean Fifteen".  Based off of the toxic load of pesticides sprayed on produce, some have much higher concentrations of pesticides and others are negligible.

Remember, eating conventionally grown produce is far better than eating no produce at all.  To reduce your toxic load, make sure that the ones found on the dirty dozen list are the ones that you always buy organic.

The Dirty Dozen:

Strawberries are one of the "dirtiest" crops
  • Apples
  • Celery
  • Cherry Tomatoes
  • Cucumbers
  • Grapes
  • Hot Peppers
  • Nectarines
  • Peaches
  • Potatoes
  • Spinach
  • Strawberries
  • Sweet Bell Peppers
  • Kale/Collard Greens (and other dark leafy greens)
  • Summer Squash (plus other squashes)

On the contrary, here is the produce you can feel good about saving a few dollars on and buying conventional. The least amount of pesticide residue will accumulate in the skin and flesh of these choices:

fresh asparagus
The Clean Fifteen:
  • Asparagus
  • Avocados
  • Cabbage
  • Cantaloupe
  • Sweet Corn (make sure non-GMO)
  • Eggplant
  • Grapefruit
  • Kiwi
  • Mangoes
  • Mushrooms
  • Onions
  • Papayas
  • Pineapples
  • Sweet Peas (frozen)
  • Sweet Potatoes

Other produce and veggies NOT found on these lists are somewhere in between.  Use your best judgement on those.  (a good rule of thumb I go by is anything with a hard shell is most likely least contaminated and anything vine-grown probably is contaminated).

For example, this chocolate avocado pudding was NOT made with organic avocados, but this Strawberry Vinaigrette WAS made with organic strawberries.

Did anything on these lists surprise you?  Will this alter your buying habits of produce in the future? I'd love to hear from you.

If you'd like to learn more about Janelle and Perfectly Nourished, please visit our website.

TIP:  The Perfectly Nourished Seasonal Menu Plans reminds you of these choices within the shopping list and recipes, among with other helpful health tips along the way!

Be well,

Are You On My Email List Yet? Join to Never Miss a 


Sign up for my FREE weekly updates on health and nutrition to keep you nourished from the inside out.  Link is below the comments. 


  1. Thank you for sharing this list! I always try to buy all of my produce organic, but will go conventional on the clean 15 ones if their organic counterparts are too pricey. It is so important to not only be mindful of what food we are putting into our bodies as well as what is on the food.

    1. Thanks for your post, Cathy! I agree wholeheartedly.

  2. Great information, thank you for sharing! I buy organic for all our fruits and veggies, but it can be limiting. For example, I don't know how many times I have passed up yummy asparagus because they were not organic and there was no organic option available. I have saved this list on my phone so I can use as reference when shopping!

    1. I'm glad you found this helpful, Nicole! It certainly has positively impacted our family budget.