12 Foods to Eat Organic, 15 Safe Non-Organics

To buy organic or not to buy organic – that’s the question you’ve probably asked yourself many times. On one hand, you don’t want to eat foods that may be contaminated with toxic chemicals and pesticides. On the other, eating all organic can quickly break the weekly grocery budget. So what should you do?

A great place to start would be to understand which foods you actually need to eat organic. Some foods, especially those with a soft outer “shell” like grapes, tend to absorb and retain pesticides even when washed. Other foods, like sweet corn, show less pesticide residue when tested.

To help you make decisions about how to spend your grocery dollars, the Environmental Working Group (EWG) has created a guide for buying organic and conventionally grown produce.

The Dirty Dozen

The Dirty Dozen™ list contains the top 12 conventionally grown foods with the highest amount of pesticides. You should purchase these foods organic when possible:


  • Apples
  • Peaches
  • Nectarines
  • Strawberries
  • Grapes


  • Celery
  • Spinach
  • Sweet bell peppers
  • Cucumbers
  • Cherry Tomatoes
  • Snap peas (imported)
  • Potatoes

The Clean 15

The Clean 15™ list contains the top 15 conventionally grown foods with the lowest pesticide residues. Buy these foods non-organic to save money:


  • Pineapple
  • Mangos
  • Papaya
  • Kiwi
  • Grapefruit
  • Cantaloupe
  • Avocados


  • Sweet corn
  • Cabbage
  • Sweet peas (frozen)
  • Onions
  • Asparagus
  • Eggplant
  • Cauliflower
  • Sweet potatoes

Washing Fruits and Vegetables

Whether the fruits and vegetables you buy are conventional or organic, make sure you wash and rinse them thoroughly before eating. [Article updated on May 29, 2015 to reflect EWG's 2015 Shopper's Guide to Pesticides in Produce™]

Meet the Author

Andrea Petrowitz, RD is a clinical dietitian with Aurora Medical Center in Grafton, WI.

Read more posts from this author

The information presented in this site is intended for general information and educational purposes. It is not intended to replace the advice of your own physician. Contact your physician if you believe you have a health problem.

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