When to buy organic

farmers markets massachusetts organic food guide

The second topic I’m asked about most frequently is food. Students know that I’m passionate about simple, good, clean, mostly-organic Vegan food. 

I don’t like the idea of pesticides on my food, poison for us, for the bugs, and they make a mess of the environment. But, we can’t always find or afford what we’d like in the organic section. I love the Environmental Working Group’s annual list of The Dirty Dozen and the Clean 15, which produce has the most and least pesticide residue.

By choosing more of the cleaner foods and less of the contaminated foods, we can reduce our pesticide intake by up to 92% before even springing for the organic veggies.

I’d still suggest buying organics when you can, it’s just better for the land, it’s a more sustainable choice, and often tastes and looks better than the conventional. But when you need to decide where to best-spend your organic dollars, this guide can really help you navigate the farmers markets this summer.

Here’s the list, Let me know what you think, where you try and spend your food dollars. If you need some inspiring recipes to whip this amazing produce up with, check out Alicia Silverstone’s lifestyle blog: The Kind Life.

The Dirty Dozen (wash really well)

1. Apples
2. Celery
3. Strawberries
4. Peaches 
5. Spinach 
6. Nectarines (imported)
7. Grapes (imported)
8. Sweet bell peppers
9. Potatoes 
10. Blueberries (domestic)
11. Lettuce 
12. Kale/collard greens

The Clean 15

1. Onions 
2. Corn 
3. Pineapples
5. Asparagus 
6. Sweet peas
7. Mangoes 
8. Eggplant 
9. Cantaloupe (domestic)
10. Kiwi 
11. Cabbage 
12. Watermelon 
13. Sweet potatoes 
14. Grapefruit 
15. Mushrooms
Please, share this important post with your friends, family and FB community. If we all buy less of the dirty foods, we send a clear message (sell cleaner food!) to the food companies.

Who can remember all of this? Click on The Dirty Dozen – Clean 15 for a nice printable, wallet-sized card form EWG.  

Om Shanti,


9 thoughts on “When to buy organic”

  1. Another thing I consider generally when shopping at a conventional grocery store because I can't always afford Whole Foods and the farmers markets are great but don't always have everything I need….stick to the outer aisles of the store…in other words, produce sections, dairy, bakery, meats and fish….the greater concentration of least processed foods are in these parts of the store.   Something else to think about when pushing your cart around!

  2. This is valuable information for everyone to have.  I've used the lists to help me make my food buying choices.  An interesting food fact I recently learned about is that mushrooms have Vitamin D.  The amounts vary depending on the type of mushroom and generally the greatest benefit is from raw mushrooms.  At least once a week, mushrooms are on my menu. Support your local farmers markets this season so their numbers can grow even higher.

      1. Thanks John; I so agree and can’t wait for the Farmers Market to open. Until then, T. Joes, Debra’s and Idlewilde do have organics and some local produce. I think berries, and greens are especially important to have organic while bananas and avocados aren’t quite as much of an issue.

        Enjoy summer and hope to see you soon,


      2. Thank you! I always feel strange buying organic apples when where I live is full of orchards, but the fact is they are not organic, and “an apple a day” DOESN’T “keep the doctor away” when it’s loaded with so much pesticide it makes my lips burn. I’m so glad to know asparagus is on the clean list; organic is rarely available and when it is the price is ridiculous. And onions and mushrooms are “clean” too! I use them all the time, so this means real money in my pocket. I think I’ll buy more yoga classes!


    1. Thanks Tamar. I’ve heard that potatoes too, are a sponge for the pesticides,
      peeling doesn’t help. They are so toxic when dug up that they must sit in storage
      while the chemicals fade… then they are sprayed with another chemical that reduces
      sprouting, so they will last longer. Ack.

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