What is the Clean 15 and the Dirty Dozen?

clean 15 and dirty dozen

What is the “Clean 15” & the “Dirty Dozen”?

If you didn’t know already, organic produce is grown without exposure (or very little exposure) to pesticides while non-organic and conventional produce have likely been exposed to many more! However, this doesn’t mean you must buy only organic produce. Some fruits and vegetables are actually strong enough to withstand many pesticides, meaning you can save some money and stress trying to buy 100% organic!

The Environmental Working Group ranks pesticide contamination of 48 popular fruits and vegetables every year and creates a Shopper’s Guide to Pesticides otherwise known as the “Dirty Dozen” and the “Clean 15”.

The “Dirty Dozen” and “Clean 15” are categories to help distinguish when it is important, and healthier, to buy organic and minimize your exposure to pesticides or when it’s safe to eat non-organic produce. Every year, these lists include 12-15 produce items each that have either tested positive for most pesticide residues or have been unlikely contaminated by pesticides.

The “Dirty Dozen” of 2021 include:

1. Strawberries

2. Spinach

3. Kale & Collard Greens

4. Nectarines

5. Apples

6. Grapes

7. Cherries

8. Peaches

9. Pears

10. Bell & Hot Peppers

11. Celery

12. Tomatoes

The “Clean 15” of 2021 include:

1. Avocados

2. Sweet Corn

3. Pineapple

4. Onions

5. Papaya

6. Sweet Peas

7. Eggplant

8. Asparagus

9. Broccoli

10. Cabbage

11. Kiwi

12. Cauliflower

13. Mushrooms

14. Honeydew Melon

15. Cantaloupe


If the produce you were looking to buy at the store isn’t offered as organic, this could be a really great opportunity to be adventurous and try something new from the “Clean 15” list. Alternatively, Farmers Markets are a really great place to seek out organic produce from your local community!

For us, it’s not realistic to buy 100% organic produce all the time so we find these lists really helpful! We don’t want to create any fear around food at all but unfortunately, pesticides are a threat to our health and are known to be linked to many health effects and issues. To decrease our toxic load, it’s sometimes really helpful to follow these guidelines and know when to shop organic or not so that we are able to make educated choices that are safest for ourselves and our families! 

You can download a printable version of these lists here! We love keeping a copy on our fridge 🙂

Looking for more vegan tips, tools, resources, and news? Check out the rest of our blogs!

Lots of love,
The Vejii Team


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