The Kitchen Think: The Dirty Dozen


Mama believes in eating as healthy as possible… but buying organic all the time can be a pretty pricey proposition if you’re trying to avoid pesticides in your produce.

(Boy, there are a lot of “p’s” in that sentence.)

image by alBerto Trevino

Summer brings a new wave of beautiful produce into the markets. But how do you know whether to buy “conventionally grown” or go organic? The Environmental Working Group’s rankings of the fruits and vegetables with the highest and lowest levels of pesticide residue are a terrific guide.

But honestly, these rankings always make me wince because what’s listed is pretty much what Mama loves to eat all the time. I know apples are at the top of the “Dirty Dozen,” but I often find that organic apples lack the crispness I so enjoy. Strawberries are also on the list… and my fam eats these non-stop all year round.

The Dirty Dozen (Highest in Pesticides):|
1. Apples
2. Celery
3. Strawberries
4. Peaches
5. Spinach
6. Imported Nectarines
7. Imported Grapes
8. Sweet Bell Peppers
9. Potatoes
10. Blueberries grown in the U.S.
11. Lettuce
12. Kale/Collard Greens

On the flip side, you might be surprised by the vegetables lowest in pesticides. I know I was. Especially corn… I thought that was hard to grow.
1. Onions
2. Corn
3. Pineapple
4. Avocado
5. Asparagus
6. Sweet Peas
7. Mango
8. Eggplant
9. Cantaloupe
10. Kiwi
11. Cabbage
12. Watermelon
13. Sweet Potatoes
14. Grapefruit
15. Mushrooms

The bottom line… try your best to stay away from the sinners, but as Mama tells her kids… “Eat your vegetables!”


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I’m Christina Chavez

I was a TV journalist for many years, but with a house full of kids I decided to come off the road, go to culinary school and follow my passion for cooking. Mama’s High Strung is all about food… everything from creative recipe ideas to some really cool kitchen gadgets and cooking tips. I live in Chicago, but I love to travel and write about my food discoveries! You can reach me by email: