Use the “Dirty Dozen” & “Clean Fifteen” to Eat Better and Save

“Approximately 5.1 billion pounds of pesticides are used each year in the United States,” admit the folks who regulate pesticide use, the EPA.

That’s a whole lot of pesticides!

Many of the pesticides are removed from the time our food is harvested to the time it reaches our tables, but many fresh fruits and vegetables, even after being washed, still contain residues of pesticides. That we end up eating.

Peas, one of the Clean Fifteen (photo credit)

Most of us don’t have the ability to grow all our own food or purchase it organically. Eating fresh foods with pesticides on them is still much better than not eating fresh foods at all.

But, the EWG’s (Environmental Watch Group) handy Dirty Dozen and Clean Fifteen lists make it easier for us busy moms to decrease the amounts of pesticide residue we and our munchkins consume, while still getting our daily dose of fresh fruits and vegetables.

If you don’t already use their lists, here is how I use them to keep my grocery budget low and our pesticide intake low.

Focus on the Clean Fifteen

It is discouraging that 98% of apples test positive for pesticide residue and that one sample of grapes had 15 different pesticides on it, even after being washed.

Don’t focus on that. Focus on foods that are low in pesticides. Onions, cabbage, sweet potatoes, avocados, and peas are delicious, packed with nutrition, and low in pesticides. Do your best to incorporate them and the rest of the Clean Fifteen into your diet.

Here’s a sample day’s menu using just fruits and veggies from the Clean Fifteen:

Breakfast: Oatmeal with grapefruit on the side

Snack: Homemade yogurt shake sweetened with frozen pineapple

Lunch: Bean dip with guacamole, cheese, and sautéed onions and mushrooms

Snack: Cantaloup or watermelon slices

Dinner: Grilled chicken with baked sweet potato (or sweet potato fries!) and frozen peas or fresh asparagus

There are so many possibilities using just those fifteen fruits and vegetables. (I’d wager a guess that most women in history haven’t had even fifteen fruits and vegetables to work with at any given time!) Even if you can’t just use those fifteen, replacing even one or two vegetable servings from the Dirty Dozen list with ones from the Clean Fifteen is a good start!

Want to avoid pesticides while keeping your budget in check? Here's how to use the dirty dozen & clean fifteen lists to eat better and save money!

Grow your own peppers! (photo credit)

Grow Your Favorites from the Dirty Dozen List

Many garden favorites, like lettuce, bell peppers, and cucumbers, make it onto the dirty dozen list. Thankfully, many of them are fairly easy to grow yourself, even with limited space. If you are planning a garden, focus on growing your family favorites from the dirty dozen list. (I’m really tempted to try planting an apple tree!)

Look for Bulk & Organic Deals on Dirty Dozen Foods

Places like Azure Standard and Country Life Natural Foods  offer many good deals on organic and bulk purchases.

For example, grapes are on the dirty dozen list so naturally raisins have been tested positive for quite a few pesticide residues. However, you can get organic raisins from Country Life for just 10¢ more a pound (when you buy them in bulk ) than you can purchase regular raisins at Aldi. Speaking of Aldi, they are rolling out more and more organic products. (Another reason I love Aldi!)

Given how many raisins my kids eat, I’m quite happy to be able to find organic raisins for just a few cents more than regular!

We used to eat apples all the time, but since they’re number #1 on the Dirty Dozen list I’ve cut way back on the amount of regular apples I buy. However, the local health food store frequently runs sales on organic apples. Check to see if yours does too.

Choose Gratitude and Don’t Stress

People have been looking for the elixer of life, that will grant them long life, for ages. They’ve yet to find it. You’re not a bad mom if you serve your kids non-organic apples.

Sin and death are part of this world. No amount of organic food is going to give you or your children eternal life. The fact that we have food to put on the table is a huge blessing that many women throughout history have not had. Choose to be grateful, even if your apples aren’t organic!

After all, “a cheerful heart does good like a medicine!”

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  1. says

    Good post! One of the reasons I started growing a lot of our food was because we just couldn’t afford to go all organic. I do try to concentrate on the top dirty fruits & veg but I don’t stress about it. I figure the benefits of eating fruits and vegetables outweighs any negatives from them not being organic.

    I linked up my recent Home Sweet Frugal Home post. Thank you for hosting!

    • anna says

      Thanks for joining us Manuela. 🙂

      I so agree that even if it’s not organic, it’s still way better to be eating the fruits and veggies. I’m really hoping our gardening efforts bear lots of fruit this year though!


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