Update: Where Should You Spend Your Organic Dollar?

Sure, we'd probably all love to buy every fruit and veggie organic, but it's not always affordable to purchase everything from the often higher-priced organic section.  Luckily, the Environmental Working Group (EWG) keeps a running list of the fruits and veggies that are most and least contaminated -- here's how they updated the list for 2011.

Shopping Tips

Organic produce is pesticide-free, but you don’t always have to buy organic. Some foods stay low in pesticides even when grown conventionally, while others are so wrought with pesticides that it’s worth the splurge to avoid chemicals. According to the EWG, choosing organic versions of foods on the Dirty Dozen can reduce your chemical exposure by as much as 92 percent.  You can offset the higher price of these organic foods by choosing conventional versions from the Clean 15. To help decide where to spend your organic dollar, check out the the “dirty dozen” and “clean fifteen” lists below.

What’s New?

Many of the same produce items appear on the revised lists, but thanks to continual USDA testing, some items switch positions from year to year. Apples beat out peaches as the most pesticide-laden fruit or veggie this year.

2011 Produce Lists

Dirty Dozen: Buy These Foods Organic When Possible

These foods have the highest levels of  pesticides when grown conventionally.

1.    Apples
2.    Celery
3.    Strawberries
4.    Peaches
5.    Spinach
6.    Nectarines (Imported)
7.    Grapes (Imported)
8.    Sweet Bell Peppers
9.    Potatoes
10.    Blueberries
11.    Lettuce
12.    Kale and Collard Greens
Other Highlights:
•    Now out of the Dirty Dozen: Cherries, Carrots & Pears

•    Rounding out the top 15: #13 Cilantro, #14 Cucumbers, #15 Grapes (Domestic)

Clean Fifteen: Conventional Versions Have Lowest Levels of Pesticides

These 15 foods have the lowest levels of pesticides when grown conventionally.

1.    Onions
2.    Corn
3.    Pineapples
4.    Avocado
5.    Asparagus
6.    Sweet peas (Frozen)
7.    Mangoes
8.    Eggplant
9.    Cantaloupe (Domestic)
10.    Kiwi
11.    Cabbage
12.    Watermelon
13.    Sweet Potatoes
14.    Grapefruit
15.    Mushrooms

Curious about what foods fell in the middle? View the list of all 53 items.

Dana Angelo White, MS, RD, ATC, is a registered dietitian, certified athletic trainer and owner of Dana White Nutrition, Inc., which specializes in culinary and sports nutrition. See Dana's full bio »

Are you surprised to see your favorite fruits and veggies on either list? How do you decide what to buy organic? Tell us in the comments below.

Keep Reading

Next Up

Healthy Debate: Should You Choose Organic?

Is it worth the extra cost to buy organic or does healthy conventionally grown food trump pesticide free?

Ways To Move Without Spending Money

The benefits of exercise are numerous for the mind, body and spirit, and you don't have to pay for fancy gyms to do it. Some of the best ways to exercise are free.

Chef Wanted: Zengo Update

Get an update with Chef David Sears who won the executive chef position at Zengo in Episode 6 of Food Network's Chef Wanted with Anne Burrell.

Chef Wanted: Culina Update

Get an update with Chef Mette Williams who won the executive chef position at Culina in Episode 7 of Food Network's Chef Wanted with Anne Burrell.

Chef Wanted: Cité Update

Get an update with the winning chef from Cite restaurant on Food Network's Chef Wanted.

Chef Wanted: Ola Update

Get an update with Chef Casey Barnes who won the executive chef position at Ola in Episode 8 of Food Network's Chef Wanted with Anne Burrell.

On TV

Food Network Apps

In the Kitchen

Get over 70,000 FN recipes on all your mobile devices.

Facebook Messenger

Ask our bot for recipes, meal ideas and daily food trivia.

Amazon Echo

Just say "Alexa, enable Food Network skill" to get started.