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When to Buy OrganicWhen to Buy Organic

This month’s focus is on healthy eating, and last week was all about easy ways to create no-cook meals. This week we’re focusing on organic produce. There’s a lot of information and labels out there that can be confusing.

The Environmental Working Group maintains lists of the Dirty Dozen and the Clean Fifteen. The Dirty Dozen includes the most highly contaminated produce, that despite washing and, in some cases, peeling still retain traces of pesticides. The list is updated yearly to provide up to date information on conventional produce. The Clean Fifteen list contains conventionally grown produce that has the lowest levels of pesticides. The Clean Fifteen is a good list to keep on hand when organic produce is unavailable.

This year’s Dirty Dozen

includes, strawberries, spinach, nectarines, apples, peaches, celery, grapes, pears, cherries, tomatoes, bell peppers, and potatoes.

The Clean Fifteen

includes sweet corn, avocados, pineapples, cabbage, onions, frozen sweet peas, papayas, asparagus, mangoes, eggplant, honeydew, kiwis, cantaloupe, cauliflower, and grapefruit.

What does “organic” mean?

Organic products limit the use of pesticides, fertilizers, and other contaminants. The USDA defines organic meat, poultry, eggs and dairy products are from animals that are not treated with any antibiotics or growth hormones. Plants are grown without most conventional pesticides, synthetic fertilizers or sewage sludge, bioengineering or ionizing radiation, in order to be considered organic.

There are three levels of USDA organic claims:

“100 Percent Organic,” where products are completely organic or made with only organic ingredients. The “Organic” label requires products to have at least 95 percent of ingredients to be organic. “Made with Organic Ingredients” is used on packaging for products where 70 percent of ingredients are certified organic.

Do you avoid the Dirty Dozen?

What have you been making with your organic foods? Let us know on the Sweet Life Wellness Facebook Page!

Have a talk with Kay to find out how she can help you achieve your health goals this summer.  Call to book your complimentary coaching call with Kay today at:  301-869-1787

Blog Author:Lauren Seat - Sweet Life Wellness Intern
Lauren Seat
Sweet Life Wellness Student Intern
Dietetics student at University of Maryland-College Park


  • EWG EWG’s 2017 Shopper’s Guide to Pesticides in Produce. Accessed 6 Jul 2017
  • Wolfram T (2017) Understanding Food Marketing Terms. In: Accessed 6 Jul 2017