Eating Organic: The Dirty Dozen and the Clean 15

Several months back, I was reading quite a few books on green living and eating and growing organic. It sort of all started out with me going to some local farmer’s markets. There is something incredibly invigorating and charming about strolling through a farmer’s market and being able to sample all the produce that’s in season.

I’m one of those people that stands in the produce section at the grocery store banging, shaking, smelling, probing (in kind of an extraterrestrial abduction sort of way), and conversing with different fruit.

Me: Hello, cantaloupe. (soft caress)

Cantaloupe: …

Me: Howzit goin, Canty? Can I call you Canty? Maybe you prefer Loupe. Sort of like antelope.

Cantaloupe: You’re an idiot.

Me: (oblivious) So, are you ripe today? Or will you be ripe in…say…the next few days? Because I’m in need of some fruit other than apples. See, apples I get. I can figure out if they’re ripe. They’re pretty straightforward. Worm or no worm. However, you, Canty, are among the top most mysterious creatures to me. Well, you and the axolotl:

Cantaloupe: (snickers)

Me: Am I supposed to shake you? Thumb you? Poke your belly button? What? Tell me!! ARE YOU SWEET?!

At this point, Noob Baby is moving away uncomfortably. She doesn’t even want to be seen with me. And I gave birth to her! How ungrateful.

By the end of this shopping trip, I’ve adopted Canty and he has a face drawn on him with my blood (think Wilson from Castaway).

Ok, I’ve lost track of what I was talking about… oh, right – organic foods!

So anyway, I highly recommend you visit a local farmer’s market for your produce needs. You get to taste before you commit (no arranged marriage here). You’ll find what’s in season (no cardboard tomatoes) for a really reasonable price… (especially if you’re comparing to Whole Foods, per say). I also like that most of the farmers use organic farming or don’t spray their produce with chemicals (even if they don’t have their organic certification). Of course, you’re supporting local farmers! No trucking in weeks-old produce and wasting fuel on transporting these goods.

*getting off my soap box now*

One of the reasons I try to buy organic is because it’s the most healthful (and environmentally friendly). I don’t have to worry about the hormone injections, pesticides, additives, etc. I’m not a super health fanatic, but if it’s reasonably priced, I do try my best to buy organic. But let’s face it, organic can be pricey.

Well, one of the books I read: To Buy or Not to Buy Organic by Cindy Burke was a really informative resource on the organic food and farming industry. It has a great history and background information section, as well as two lists that I’m going to share with you.

The first list, commonly referred to as The Dirty Dozen, names the foods you should strongly consider purchasing in organic form. These are the fruits and vegetables that are usually heavily sprayed with pesticides.


  1. Strawberries
  2. Red & Green Bell Peppers
  3. Spinach
  4. Cherries
  5. Peaches
  6. Nectarines
  7. Celery
  8. Apples
  9. Pears
  10. Grapes (imported from Chile)
  11. Raspberries
  12. Potatoes

If you’re like me, perhaps going ALL organic is a daunting and expensive task. But, if you pick and choose what is more important (and I’d probably even add milk, eggs, meat), it’s still affordable and worth it for your health and especially your noob’s development.

This is also a helpful list to keep in mind if you’re making your own baby food, or deciding to purchase the regular or organic baby food. On a side note, most large grocery store chains offer a growing selection of organic, and I always find a decent selection at Trader Joe’s. Even Costco offers organic, free range chicken that is individually portioned for your freezing needs :)

Finally, Cindy Burke also lists the Clean 15. These are fruit and vegetables you don’t have to worry too much about. They aren’t heavily sprayed with pesticides, or many of them are imported from countries that don’t use pesticides in abundance like we do.


  1. Asparagus
  2. Avocados
  3. Bananas
  4. Blueberries
  5. Broccoli
  6. Cabbage
  7. Garlic
  8. Kiwi
  9. Mango
  10. Onions
  11. Papaya
  12. Pineapple
  13. Shelling peas
  14. Sweet Corn
  15. Watermelon (domestically grown)

I hope you find these lists useful. And for you noob mommies and daddies out there that are entering the baby food/solids phase, don’t forget that you can make your own baby food with just a blender and some ice cube trays to freeze your mush. Super easy and affordable! No more lugging around glass jars of baby food.

If you have your own organic ideas, suggestions and finds… feel free to leave a comment! Or, just leave a comment about how freakin weird-slash-adorable the Axolotl is.


  1. 3

    Buying organic can get to be expensive but learning which ones you really benefit from takes some of the bite out of the bill.

  2. 4

    I love the way your express 😀 it’s unique…
    I add your website as one of my favorite check mine :)

  3. 5

    I actually thought talking with Canty was very cute, I might do the same… did it work? was Canty sweet? or was he upset by all that tickling? I never know how to pick a canteloupe, I just go with the prettiest :O (shame on me). The axolotl? Kinda cute with all those little…fingers? and that crazy… hairdo? what is the axolotl anyway? The name sounds like something I should know, being Mexican and all (the word sounds kind of aztec to me). AND thanks for sharing your list of produce to buy organic! 😀

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