In today’s society, shopping for food is anything but easy. If we’re lucky enough to fight our way through the processed food section of the grocery store and reach the shining light of the produce department, we’re still faced with that grueling question…organic or non-organic? We all know that organic is the healthier way to go. We also all know that it’s more expensive. What’s a health-food nut to do?

whole paycheck

Usually I shamefully pass by the small organic section of my local food market, glancing long-fully at the less than perfect looking produce like a child with no allowance outside a candy store. At this point in my life I find it difficult to break that bank for a head of cauliflower. Okay, so an extra $.50 won’t break the bank, but it adds up. To supplement my lacking initiative to splurge for my health, usually opt for local, seasonal foods over organic and, fingers crossed, hope that the chemicals used to keep the pests away aren’t reeping havic on my body.

Finally, last week, a little bit of my frustration was eliminated when I found the “dirty dozen,” a list of foods that you most definitely should buy organic. Also included, a list of fruits and veggies that you can skimp on if you have to. Kudos to whomever first printed this list. My body and my wallet thank you.

So here’s the Dirty Dozen list, in no particular order, of fresh foods that you should always opt to buy organic…

12 Most Contaminated

  • Peaches
  • Apples
  • Sweet Bell Peppers
  • Celery
  • Nectarines
  • Strawberries
  • Cherries
  • Pears
  • Grapes (Imported)
  • Spinach
  • Lettuce
  • Potatoes

And the equally appreciated list of foods that don’t require your whole paycheck…

12 Least Contaminated

  • Onions
  • Avocado
  • Sweet Corn
  • Pineapples
  • Mango
  • Asparagus
  • Sweet Peas
  • Kiwi Fruit
  • Bananas
  • Cabbage
  • Broccoli
  • Papaya

So there ya have it. A simple solution to a grappling question. And lucky, some of these items are often on sale. Right now in California, organic pears are on sale for ridiculously cheap. Bell peppers, however, are often expensive regardless of the farming method. So I make some sacrifices, or rotate my shopping list. Whenever possible, I recommend shopping at your farmer’s market.  There you’ll find more organic options for a cheaper price and guaranteed local and in season. To find a farmer’s market near you visit