Which Foods To Eat Organic

Posted on August 30, 2015 By

In an ideal world all our foods would be free from chemicals such as pesticides, synthetic fertilizers and herbicides. In an ideal world we would not have to have a conversation about which foods to eat organic.  Unfortunately as the world’s population grows, so does the need to feed them, hence we welcome commercial growing practices that include those chemicals for maximum yield.  For many people, myself included, the preference would be not to have chemicals such as the carcinogenic industrial chemical – formaldehyde, that some Chinese growers are thought to spray on their produce to keep it looking fresh.  It is interesting to note that when CHOICE Australia did some broad sample testing of imported produce here in Australia, they tested for 164 different pesticides.  Yes you heard correctly 164 different pesticides!  Here in Australia,  AQIS is responsible for the monitoring and testing of imported food to ensure that it complies with the Australian Food Standards Code.  Even with this in place it has been reported by AUSVEG the Australian vegetable grower’s peak body, that they have concerns that the testing does not capture all potential pesticides that fresh produce is exposed to overseas.  Wow!  Well I don’t know about you, but this is a tad scary.

Even though there are strict standards in Australia regarding safe pesticide levels on fresh produce, it is feared that there is still a way to go to come into line with other countries as far as acceptable levels of chemicals used and types of chemicals that are acceptable.  Australia only bans chemical in this respect only when there is conclusive evidence that they are harmful.

We know that with organic produce comes a higher price tag when purchasing.  If you are on a budget, buying everything organic may be out of your reach, but never fear the Environmental Working Group (EWC), based in the United States. has created a shopper’s guide that helps consumers know which foods to eat organic due to pesticide exposure called – The Dirty Dozen, and those that are safer to eat if non-organic known as – The Clean 15.  This list is updated each year by the Environmental Working Group (EWC).

  Dirty Dozen


1.  Apples

2.  Peaches

3.  Nectarines

4.  Strawberries

5.  Grapes

6.  Celery

7.  Spinach

8.  Sweet Bell Peppers (Capsicums)

9.  Cucumbers

10.  Cherry Tomatoes

11.  Snap Peas (Imported)

12.  Potatoes

Additional items

13.  Hot Peppers

14.  Kale/Collard Greens




1.  Advocados

2.  Sweet Corn

3.  Pineapples

4.  Cabbage

5.  Sweet Peas Frozen

6.  Onions

7.  Asparagus

8.  Mangoes

9.  Papayas (Paw Paw)

10.  Kiwi Fruit

11.  Eggplant

12.  Grapefruit

13.  Cantaloupe (Rockmelon)

14.  Cauliflower

15.  Sweet Potatoes

As these two lists are US based, as the EWG is a group that currently doesn’t have any offices outside the United States it’s worth noting that there will be differences country to country.  If you reside in Australia please read on for the Australian equivalent of The Dirty Dozen and Clean Fifteen.


General Rule of Thumb when deciding to buy organic or non-organic produce.

Vanessa Layton has put together these tips and I think they are a really good general guide when it comes to what foods to eat organic.

  •  Tree fruits, berries and leafy greens, including herbs,  have the highest residues. Fruits and
  • Vegetables that have thick skins tend to have much lower levels of detectable pesticide residues.

The three main groups of things that you should really buy and eat organic, they are:

  1. Produce with soft flesh, such as stonefruit, grapes and berries.
  2. Produce with edible skin like carrots, apples, pears, capsicums and celery.
  3. Green leafy vegetables, such as lettuce, spinach and leafy herbs like parsley.

As a general rule, any produce with a thick skin or has to be peeled before eating is a safe alternative.  Examples include bananas or avocados, watermelons and oranges.

Australian Dirty Dozen


1.  Strawberries

2.  Peaches, Plums, Cherries

3.  Carrots

4.  Apples

5.  Spinach

6.  Nectarines

8.  Lettuce

9.  Carrots

10.  Pears

11.  Tomatoes

12.  Grapes


Australian Clean Fifteen


1.  Kiwi fruits

2.  Pineapples

3.  Watermelon

4.  Rockmelon

5.  Avocado

6.  Citrus fruit – oranges, grapefruit, tangerines

7.  Bananas

8.  Mangoes

9.  Broccoli

10.  Radishes

11.  Onions

12.  Corn

13.  Eggplants

14.  Mushrooms

15.  Sweet Potatoes

16.  Cabbage


Potatoes made the EWG’s Dirty Dozen List, information I have read in relation to this here in Australia is mixed.  For me personally, I try to buy organic or spray free potatoes.  A good friend who is in the Natural Health Care Industry once told me, that potatoes that are not organic soak up the pesticide that seep into the ground and since I cannot find any information to confirm or deny this theory, I am heeding this advice.


General Tips to assist with what foods to eat organic:

  • Wash all fruit and vegetables really well whether they are organic and non organic.  I like to use a vegetable wash solution and a brush or vegetable cloth.
  • Peel the skins off, especially on potatoes, carrots, stonefruit, apples, pears and cucumbers.  For me this depends on whether they are organic, spray free or non-organic.  I will wash and peel non-organic fruits and vegetables, however I tend not peel if the produce is organic or spray free.
  • Grow what you can on your own – lettuce, spinach and herbs are really easy to grow in pots or in your back yard.  It also gives you a sense of pride and achievement when you can go and harvest bits and pieces for your meals.


Thank you for reading I hope you have found this information helpful.  If you would like to share any thoughts please leave a message in the comments below.







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  1. […] If you’re on a budget buy the best quality food you can afford. It is better to do this and maintain the lifestyle change than to have to stop because you can’t afford to purchase the “top notch” produce consistently.  To find out more about the foods you should buy organic and the ones that are not as important to buy organic visit my article Which Foods To Eat Organic. […]

  2. Chris Lakin says:

    Hi Great site i am looking to change my diet as i have just been diagnosed with diabetes so a change has to happen somewhere, this site has already given me a few new idea’s and helped my wife with new cooking idea’s.

  3. Chrislakinauthor.wordpress.com says:

    Hi Christene you have a great site for information, but I’m going to say(purely in the spirit of helpful advice) and i guess I’m guilty of the same thing, you do need much more colour, that’s not mis spelled I’m uk. LOL
    Keep going you have a great site and a good future.

  4. Kevin Roache says:

    Hi Christene – what a beautiful, clean site. There is a lot of great, relevant, need-to-know information there. My only slight criticism would be that splitting your text into smaller paragraphs interspersed with more pictures would make it easier to digest. Add a few videos and not only would it be more SEO/google friendly it would look more attractive. As it is your site has almost got me – a confirmed minimal foodie – inspired to eat more healthily. Well done.

    • admin says:

      Hi Kevin, Thank you for your honest feedback. I it good to know how readers view my work. I will definitely heed your advice.

      Thank you


  5. Katerina Markakis says:

    Hello there!
    I love your website and this post was very helpful! I am trying to eat more organic and this is a very helpful list here!
    I especially love organic apples! They are so much more delicious and aromatic! I need to try more of these organic veggies n fruits!
    Thank you for sharing!

    • admin says:

      Hi Katerina,

      Hello and thank you for your comment. I am glad you enjoyed the article. Good luck on your eating organic adventure!

  6. Randy says:

    Hi there,

    I enjoyed reading your post, I found it highly informative. I like the fact that you give me reasons for choosing to eat organic, followed by options.

    As I am on a budget it’s good to know I don’t have to buy everything organic.

    It really is too bad that we have this problem to begin with, but at least I’m more informed now.
    Thank you.

    • admin says:

      Hi Randy,

      Thank you for your feedback. I am really happy you found the information helpful. Yes it is a shame that we have to worry about all those chemicals on our food. You just have to be informed and then choose what is best for you.

      Thank you again.

  7. Get Sport Supplements says:

    A great informative and comprehensive article. I have never heard of the dirty dozen or clean fifteen until now!. This is what I like about these websites, you can learn so much helpful advice by reading someone else’s knowledge.

    Well done 10 out of 10 article, keep up the good work.

    • admin says:

      Thank you for visiting and your feedback. Glad that you found the information useful. I love helping others on their journey. I hope to see you again.

  8. Samantha says:

    Thanks for this post! I fully support buying organic fruits and vegetables, but I also want to make sure I’m doing it in an educated way. I’ll be sure to remember the Clean Fifteen and the Dirty Dozen.

    I also appreciate the rules of thumb about what to look for when shopping for organic fruits and veggies. It all makes sense and will be easy for me to remember when I’m at the grocery store!

  9. Lee Zhi Wei says:

    I rarely trust the veg/fruits that I buy as they contain a high level of chemical within. What I can do is to wash them multiple times to ease the fear & pray that nothing goes wrong

    The price tag is definitely one of the consideration as well when it comes to organic food & I was shocked when I made payment for 1 broccoli which I bought that day. It stated “Australia Broccoli” and cost me $6.50. When I went to the Veg section, I compared the “China Broccoli” & guess what? It cost just $1.20. This is almost ridiculous pricing to me & I foresee that this will actually go on for the next few decades.

    • Christene says:

      Yes you are right! The price difference between commercially grown and organic produce is huge. Pricing can make organic produce unattainable to some. That is why I have put this list together to help people make informed choices and be able to save themselves some money where they can. What do you currently wash your fruits and vegetables with?

  10. Kristin says:

    I am so thankful that I found your site. I totally agree about your statement and I wish we also lived in a world that we didn’t have to question the bad chemicals and processes our food takes on before we purchase them. Buying organic can get expensive so it’s great to have the list of specifics which we can get by purchasing non organic to save some money and not compromise our health. Thanks for the great information!

  11. lilywong says:

    Hi, what an informative post! It’s great to have list of which types of organic foods to prioritize – as you say they come at a high price tag, so we have got to be vigilant when making our organic purchases too. The rule of thumb is very helpful too – I am gonna add this to my shopping list so it gets less overwhelming when I go shopping for organic foods next. Thanks for sharing this!

  12. i.c carlos says:

    I’m American so the EWG’s listing is the one I use. I have a copy of it somewhere in my files. It can be very difficult to detects dangerous pesticides in foods and many of us aren’t even aware of the side effects that may come with them but consumers insist on using them due the high demand. You are right in an ideal world one where people discern better how to distribute foods without spraying chemicals on them, everything would be organic and honestly it’s much better that way.

  13. kevin says:

    well made site and well informed and the fact that you added the 2 lists make it really helpful. so people can go straight to it, look up the foods the want to and add it to their shopping list. so that is a good thing since I like getting the info within the first 30 seconds of looking for it

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