Since I’ve started consistently promoting the benefits of following a plant based diet I’m getting questions about ways to facilitate the transition. Recently I had a question about how to eat more plant based foods on a limited budget. Since I’ve already written a recent blog on that topic, I won’t expound on it in great detail here. Still, I want to share with you my response to that question.

The primary things I recommended were to buy frozen when necessary, buy what’s in season, and shop the farmer’s market. As I recommended short cuts to eating clean on a lean budget, I made one exception. Whenever possible, you should buy certain produce organic. This recommendation was based on a list referred to as the Dirty Dozen.  

The Environmental Work Group (EWG) published a list of fruits and veggies that are the most contaminated with pesticide residues. These are twelve types of produce they recommend you avoid buying in non-organic varieties. For 2013 they updated the Dirty Dozen with two additional foods.

The Dirty Dozen



3.Sweet Bell Peppers






9.Grapes (Imported)



12. Potatoes

….plus collards & kale

….plus summer squash & zucchini

Despite making these distinctions and the recommendation to buy organic, it’s important to point out that the health benefits of a diet rich in fruits and vegetables outweigh the risks of pesticide exposure. Use these recommendations to reduce your exposures as much as possible, but eating conventionally-grown produce is far better than not eating fruits and vegetables at all. But, if you can only afford to buy some organic produce, you’ll want to start with the Dirty Dozen. To put your mind at ease, EWB has also published the Clean Fifteen, which lists produce that has low levels of pesticide residue. So, there’s no need to spend more on organically grown varieties.

The Clean Fifteen

1. asparagus

2. avocado

3. cabbage

4. cantaloupe

5. corn

6. eggplant

7. grapefruit

8. kiwi

9. mangoes

10. mushrooms

11. onions

12. papayas

13. pineapples

14. sweet peas (frozen)

15. sweet potatoes

Now that you know about the Dirty Dozen and Clean Fifteen, will this change the way you shop for your fruit and veggies?]]>


  • Kathy Cochrane Posted September 6, 2013 6:44 pm

    Thanks for listing the dirty dozen and the clean 15. Its great to have the reminder and to have the info all in one handy reference. I have found that –Your DeKalb Farmer’s Market — on East Ponce has the best variety of extremely fresh, beautiful fruits and vegetables. We love eggplant and the Market has regular, Indian, and Chinese! I usually leave there with 15-20 bags and spend less than $60 – all fresh. They also have great fresh spices for crazy low prices. Thanks again for the great info.

    • Latrina Patrick Posted September 6, 2013 6:56 pm

      You’re welcome Kathy! Im so glad you found it help. I also LOVE Dekalb Farmers Market. I recommend it all the time!

Add Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *