Resolving Produce Perplexity: Why Buy Organic Produce

Or are you currently shrugging your shoulders, thinking—why does this even matter?

Although the debate continues as to whether organic produce actually contains higher levels of micronutrients than their conventional counterparts, I personally believe that eating organic whenever possible is clearly the better option based on environmental impact and toxin exposure.


According to the Environmental Working Group (EWG)*, researchers have found—and US and international government agencies have acknowledged—that a link exists between pesticides used on conventionally-grown produce and adverse health outcomes that include cancer; brain and nervous system toxicity; hormone disruption; and skin, eye, and lung irritation.

In government tests analyzed by the Environmental Working Group, detectable pesticide residues were found on 67 percent of food samples after they had been washed or peeled.

But pesticides don’t reside on all fruits and veggies to the same degree. Some are “dirtier” or “cleaner” than others. In their studies, the EWG found striking differences between the number of pesticides and amount of residues detected on various fresh produce items. They’ve trademarked the phrases “Dirty Dozen” and “Clean 15” as a guide to help consumers decide when springing for organic may be a safer option and when it’s OK to buy the typically less-expensive conventional counterpart.  So, if we can’t afford the organic versions of the Dirty Dozen, should we avoid these foods? The EWG clearly suggests NO. They recommend that eating produce from the Dirty Dozen™ list rather than foods or snacks such as fat-, sugar- or additive-laden processed products remains a much healthier option. I totally agree. But if at all possible for your budget and accessibility, consider buying the organic versions of the Dirty Dozen™.

Dirty Dozen(TM) 2013

These produce items were found to contain the most amount of pesticides; always buy organic, if possible

1.     Apples

2.     Strawberries

3.     Grapes

4.     Celery

5.     Peaches

6.     Spinach

7.     Sweet bell peppers

8.     Nectarines—imported

9.     Cucumbers

10.  Potatoes

11.  Cherry tomatoes

12.  Hot peppers


Clean 15(TM) 2013

These produce items contained the least amount of pesticides; OK to buy conventional.

1.     Sweet corn

2.     Onions

3.     Pineapples

4.     Avocados

5.     Cabbage

6.     Sweet peas-frozen

7.     Papayas

8.     Mangos

9.     Asparagus

10.  Eggplant

11.  Kiwi

12.  Grapefruit

13.  Cantaloupe

14.  Sweet potatoes

15.  Mushrooms

There’s an app for that!

Don’t feel like committing these lists to memory? Download the EWG’s free Dirty Dozen(TM) app. Once you have the app, you’ll see tabs for the Dirty Dozen, Clean 15, and even all 48 fruits and veggies tested (listed in order from dirtiest to cleanest). Just go to And go shopping!

If you’ve read my previous posts, you know I’m a big fan of veggies—especially non-starchy’s like dark leafy greens, peppers, radishes, beets, broccoli, carrots, and cabbages. These are packed with fiber, phytonutrients, and antioxidants, making them super nutrient dense. Sooooo….

Up next: Ways to incorporate more veggies into your life, as I’ve been getting questions about everything from juicing to good kale recipes.  (And, no, kale is not just for garnishing the salad bar at the Western Sizzlin’. It’s actually delicious when prepared appropriately. And if you’ve never heard of Western Sizzlin’, then consider yourself lucky).

Until then: Download the EWG Dirty Dozen app to shop smart! And, share, please! What are your thoughts on organic vs conventional? And what topics do you want to read about in future StrongRabbit posts? We wanna know, so comment below! We’re here to serve!

This week’s tunage rec: I needed to relieve some frustration this past week, so this has been a great tune to make me go all out during my cardio workouts.  Great for intervals, with just enough down times to catch your breath before the next hard push.

“Levitate (Koven Remix)” by Hadouken!

* The Environmental Working Group is a non-profit, non-partisan organization “dedicated to using the power of information to protect human health and the environment”.


Sources used


When is it worth buying organic over conventional?