Home Health CHERYL MAJOR: The Clean Fifteen and the Dirty Dozen

CHERYL MAJOR: The Clean Fifteen and the Dirty Dozen


Cheryl A. Major is a volunteer contributor at Westford CAT. If you would like to submit content or write an ongoing or occasional column, email [email protected] 

You’ve decided to eat a cleaner, healthier diet; that’s a great step!  But, how do you know where to start?  How do you keep the cost of food under control and still eat a healthy diet? How do you know what needs to be organic and what can be conventionally grown?

These are all questions I faced when I decided to change how I was eating, and I know I’m not alone.  I hear from people all the time how they would love to eat more organic food, but it’s so expensive!  It doesn’t cost that much more if you know what needs to be organic and what can safely be conventional food choices.

I remember standing in the Trader Joe’s in Nashua, New Hampshire, nearly four years ago and looking at the fruits and vegetables not really knowing what to buy.

I was lucky that day as a very nice woman overheard me speaking with my husband Rob, trying to decide which food we should buy that was organic.  She asked us if we had ever heard of “The Clean Fifteen and the Dirty Dozen.”  We had no idea what she was talking about. Then she took a list from her purse that was the Environmental Working Group’s list of the cleanest 15 fruits and vegetables and the 12 dirtiest (most heavily treated with pesticides).

This was back in 2012.   At the time, I had never heard of the list or of the Environmental Working Group. I took a picture of her list with my phone while she explained that these two lists give guidance for people trying to eat a “cleaner diet.”  For those of us who want to eat well yet still watch our food budgets, the list gives great guidance as to which conventional fruits and vegetables you can buy and which you absolutely should buy that are organically grown.

The Environmental Working Group (EWG.org) updates the list every year, and every year there are changes.  EWG does great work and have other really important guidance and health information on personal care products, household cleaning products, etc.  I encourage you to visit their website and take a closer look at all their wonderful information at http://ewg.org.

Here’s the list so you can print it out and keep it with you, too!

Clean Fifteen – 2016       Dirty Dozen – 2016

  1. Avocados                                    Strawberries
  2. Corn                                            Apples
  3. Pineapples                                 Nectarines
  4. Cabbage                                     Peaches
  5. Sweet peas                                Celery
  6. Onions                                      Grapes
  7. Asparagus                                Cherries
  8. Mangoes                                  Spinach
  9. Papayas                                    Tomatoes
  10. Kiwi                                          Bell peppers
  11. Eggplant                                 Cherry tomatoes
  12. Honeydew                              Cucumbers
  13. Grapefruit
  14. Cantaloupe
  15. Cauliflower

On the Clean Fifteen, the list runs from the safest conventional food (avocados) down to the last on the list, cauliflower, which you can still safely buy as a conventionally grown vegetable.

On the Dirty Dozen list, number one is strawberries which are very heavily sprayed with pesticides; you should always look for and buy organic strawberries.  In fact, all the fruits and vegetables on the Dirty Dozen list…really…it’s in your best interest to buy all these fruits and veggies organically grown.

This will help you get started on the road to cleaner, healthier eating which will help you eat to be well!

Please let me know if you have questions or if there are topics you would like me to cover here.

Cheryl A Major lives in Westford and is a Certified Nutrition and Wellness Consultant. Her TV show Thin Strong Healthy airs on WestfordCat and is an offshoot of her blog http://ThinStrongHealthy.com   Cheryl offers ongoing information and coaching to help you feel better and be healthier.  She is also a full time residential Realtor with Coldwell Banker with more than 25 years experience.

 Questions?  Email Cheryl at [email protected] and be sure to put Health Question in the subject line.  Your question and answer will be included in a future article.