Organic Produce | The 2012 Dirty Dozen and Clean Fifteen

Most people would prefer to buy organic produce but the costs can be crazy! In this economy, most of us need to be selective about our grocery dollars. Why spend more to buy organic.  For several years I have relied on the “Dirty Dozen & Clean 15” list put out by the Environmental Working Group. The list gets updated each year based on current trends in farming practices and they recently updated it for 2012!

What are the Dirty Dozen and the Clean Fifteen?

The “Dirty Dozen”: if you have to make choices in what organic produce you are going to buy, these are the ones that you should spend the extra money to buy organic as they are the ones with the highest amount of pesticides.

The “Clean Fifteen”: these are the ones that have the lowest level of pesticides. You are generally fine buying the “regular version” of these items!

This year, there are 2 “bonus items” on the Dirty Dozen. Per the EWG:

This year we have expanded the Dirty Dozen™ with a Plus category to highlight two crops — green beans and leafy greens, meaning, kale and collard greens – that did not meet traditional Dirty Dozen ™criteria but were commonly contaminated with highly toxic organophosphate insecticides. These insecticides are toxic to the nervous system and have been largely removed from agriculture over the past decade. But they are not banned and still show up on some food crops.

So without further ado, here is the 2012 lists in the order from worst to best.

:: 2012 Dirty Dozen

  1. Apples
  2. Celery
  3. Sweet bell peppers
  4. Peaches
  5. Strawberries
  6. Nectarines – imported
  7. Grapes
  8. Spinach
  9. Lettuce
  10. Cucumbers
  11. Blueberries– domestic
  12. Potatoes


  1. Green beans
  2. Kale/Greens

:: 2012 Clean Fifteen

  1. Onions
  2. Sweet Corn
  3. Pineapples
  4. Avocado
  5. Cabbage
  6. Sweet peas
  7. Asparagus
  8. Mangoes
  9. Eggplant
  10. Kiwi
  11. Cantaloupe – domestic
  12. Sweet potatoes
  13. Grapefruit
  14. Watermelon
  15. Mushrooms

Changes in the Dirty Dozen List from 2011 to 2012

  • Apples and celery are still #1 & 2, but strawberries have been moved to #5 .
  • Sweet bell peppers moved from #8 to #3 this year.
  • Spinach made it’s debut on the 2010 Dirty Dozen List at #8, went up to #5 on the 2011 list, but is back down to #8
  • Cucumbers are a new addition to the 2012 list. They weren’t on the 2011 Dirty Dozen List

Do you buy organic produce? Will you change what you buy organic based on these lists?

Looking for more Extreme Couponing tips? Make sure that you check out all the posts in my Coupon 101 and Coupon Ethics sections!