Which Foods to Buy (& Not Buy) Organic

Written by Dr. Becky Gillaspy, DrBeckyFitness.com

To eat, or not to eat – that is the question when it comes to organic produce.

I will admit that a few years ago, none of the produce in my refrigerator was organic. At the time, I wasn’t convinced that it had any real value.

Then the “Dirty Dozen” became a thing, and I started to pay more attention.

The “Dirty Dozen” is a regularly updated list of the produce that is most heavily sprayed with pesticides.

The challenging part is that there doesn’t seem to be an official list, and the list changes depending upon the source.

So, I simplified.

When I go to the produce section of the grocery store, I think G-SNAP to remind me which foods to buy organic.

G – Grapes

S – Strawberries

N – Nectarines

A – Apples

P – Peaches

No matter what source you look at, these five fruits are part of the Dirty Dozen. They are highly sprayed with pesticides that I don’t want my family eating.

There are other fruits and vegetables that rotate on and off the list (see below), but the five I mentioned earlier are favorites.

There is some produce that is OK to buy non-organic.

O – Onions

K – Kiwi

These foods are part of the “Clean 15” meaning they are sprayed with few pesticides.

So there are a couple of quick memory tricks that will help you spend your money wisely in the grocery store!

If you’d like a healthy plan to get more fruits and vegetables into your diet, you can follow my 7-Day Challenge Diet. It will take you from junk foods to super foods in one week, or follow my free plan on How to Lose 10 Pounds in a Month.

Still reading?

Okay, let me share the reason you want to avoid pesticides as well as the complete “Dirty Dozen +” and “Clean 15” lists.


The Problem with Pesticides

In 2015, there was a study published in the journal Environmental Health Perspectives that showed people who ate non-organic foods had higher levels of organophosphates (OPs) in their bodies.

You don’t want OPs inside of you.

According to Dana Boyd Barr, an exposure scientist at Emory University, these pesticides are extremely toxic. She states…

“They’re considered junior-strength nerve agents because they have the same mechanism of action as nerve gases like sarin.”

The EPA has been taking steps to lessen the use of highly toxic pesticides like this in the U.S., but much of our produce comes in from other countries.

Complete Organic / Non-Organic Lists

Dirty Dozen + List

Here are fruits and vegetables that are often on the Dirty Dozen list. If you buy a lot of these foods, you want to go organic.

G – Grapes

S – Strawberries

N – Nectarines

A – Apples

P – Peaches

Sweet Bell Peppers




Tomatoes (regular and cherry)

Snap peas (imported)








Collard greens

Hot peppers

Clean 15 List

Here’s the complete “Clean 15” list according to EWG’s 2016 Shopper’s Guide:

O – Onions

K – Kiwi


Sweet corn



Sweet peas (frozen)






Cantaloupe (domestic)


Sweet potatoes