Produce Buying Guide

There are 14 produce items that should be non-negotiable when it comes to buying organic fruits and vegetables.

The EWG released their 2013  Dirty Dozen organic produce list, which helps me decide what produce I should definitely be buying organic. There are 14 produce items that should be non-negotiable. And yes, I know a dozen is 12…but this year they added 2 more items that have large amounts of pesticide exposure, yet they still wanted to keep that catchy name.

Not only are organic produce free from chemical pesticides, but a Washington State University study found that organic strawberries have higher levels of antioxidants and Vitamin C than conventional strawberries. And why does this matter? Well, antioxidants help protect your body against cancer and fight signs of aging. Suddenly skipping the conventional strawberry sale and buying the more expensive organic ones doesn’t seem so hard, right?

Simple guide to learn what produce is high in pesticides

This list is very helpful, but I must say there are still times when I don’t buy accordingly (I have a long way to go on my clean eating journey). I am still figuring out ways to add more organic produce into our kitchen without breaking the budget. I’ve had the best luck at Trader Joe’s, Super Target and farmer’s markets. You can also get super fresh and affordable organic produce through CSAs and organic produce co-ops.

Do you follow the Dirty Dozen list? What is your favorite way to buy organic produce?

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Ratings & Comments

  1. SGS Rawkstar says:

    Hi Jane,

    We’re right there with you! We hate seeing good produce, go bad. That’s why we personally love using our freezer. It helps keep our favorite fruits, veggies, + leafy greens at their peak freshness.

    Learn how we freeze our leafy greens for green smoothies here…


    Looking for a rawkin’ veggie/fruit wash? Look no further than this wash from Cafe Johnsonia, it inspired our own all-natural wash included in our new book!


  2. Jade says:

    Hiya I just wanted to say.as a single person I also struggled with this problem.I have freeze everything I can.also when I use half an apple I rub it in a lemon then I store it with other cut up veggies in a tub with the lemon…seems to keep all fresh.also you can build a mini version of a turnip shed (Google it)is have amd it keep my veggies fresher for longer…I have not chucked anything out in ages good luck x

  3. Anthony says:

    Thanks ladies,
    I was hoping you have more information in reference to pesticides and how much pesticide is used and how often is the produce sprayed or is it filtered into the irrigation of the plant throughout its life span. What other requirements does a plant need? This would help us understand more of what we a putting into our body. Right now if you don’t buy organic we are drinking pesticide. I grew up on a agricultural plantation and we move because the pesticides were making my father a little heady. There was no education on the application of pesticides you just mix it up and off you go it didn’t sit write with my father to be spraying pesticides and then on selling to the people. You can’t really have an organic farm next to a conventional the forces of nature will blow residual pesticide at the time of application. He would always spray the crop when wind was low. I love to see more research in pesticides we are drinking when not organic.

    • SGS Rawkstar says:

      Hi Anthony,

      Thank you so much for reaching out + sharing your interest in learning more about pesticide practices. We agree it’s definitely important to speak with your local farmers, market, + produce providers to knowing exactly how your favorite fruits + leafy greens are being grown. You may be interested in checking out EWG’s website it’s all about know where your food comes from + how to protect your health!

      Here’s the link…


  4. Teresa says:

    My kids and I are excitedly going through the list. Favorite? We have enjoyed each one so much, Beginner’s Luck surely made it seem easy from the get go. None of us are bigs fans of grapefruit, but your recipes encourage us to try something new and to be open to the new flavors on each of tgem. Thank you for helping me teach my children the importance of living healthy.

  5. Justsome says:

    Am just the devils advocate here. But for fruits and veggies to be organic they must have warms and some pest in the. So how is it that whole foods target and the likes can commercially grow food and somehow worms and pest don’t get attracted? Do your research on organic forget the labels and certificates those are bought. Clean your produce very good. And remember cancer is not new. It has been with humans for a while before it become a name.

  6. Margaret says:

    Is this okay for type 2 diabetic?

  7. Tanya says:

    I see that corn is not on the list of the dirty dozen. I have read that corn and soy are at least 80% of the time genetically modified now. Which means they most likely used toxic spay on them as well or why bother to use gmo corn and soy. I saw another list recently that also said corn is safe. I have a lot of contacts that say differently. I wonder who is correct?

    • SGS Rawkstar Jessie says:

      Hey Tanya.

      We enjoy reading from EWG.com for our dirty dozen advice.

    • faye says:

      Hi Tanya,

      The label “Organic” means that the fruit/vegetable has not been sprayed with any pesticides AND that is not a GMO. Non-organic corn and soy are more often than not grown from Monsanto GMO seeds and therefore do not require a lot of pesticide spraying because they have been genetically modified to resist the pests in the first place. This means that if you want to avoid GMOs you will want to buy only organic corn and soy, however, if you are only concerned with pesticide sprays you will be fine buying non-organic.

      Hope that helps πŸ™‚

    • Dolly says:

      I do not have a website, but I take issue with your response to Monsanto GMO seeds. These fields are sprayed with Round up weed Killer that is known to kill bees. They also spray their fields with Agent Orange when the weeds get to strong for Round up. They may have handled the bugs, but they hold growers hostage with their weed killers. I would not eat any GMO foods if you can avoid it. There are many reports on these products and tests have been done on these products with rats and they have grown large tumors. Round Up has also been proven to cause cancer in Humans. Monsanto bought its way out of having to run tests to have their corn and soy and beets that they have modified to see if they were safe for human consumption. You have to know that their is something wrong with this picture.

  8. Mohsin says:

    You have mentioned Kale and Collard green among the dirty dozen along with Potatoes. However, you have also mentioned Kale as a Superfood. I am confused !

    • SGS Rawkstar Jessie says:

      Hey Mohsin.

      The Dirty Dozen is for items that you should try to buy Organic. The EWG released their 2013 Dirty Dozen organic produce list, which helps us decide what produce we should definitely be buying organic. There are 14 produce items that should be non-negotiable. Kale is a superfood. πŸ™‚ To benefit from kale in the best way possible, try to buy organic Kale, so we do not have pesticide in your food. Hope this answers your question.

    • Dolly says:

      They are super foods, but “Don”t be confused”. Eat the organic ones. Or if possible, grow your own. They are very easy to grow.

  9. Steve says:

    Bare in mind that you get organic pesticides too. Some are downright nasty. Wash all produce!


  10. trent thompson says:

    Green smoothies replaces my Coffee twice a day and it gives me more energy

    • SGS Rawkstar Jessie says:

      Wonderful! I love coffee too, but I hated the ups and down of energy.

  11. Scully says:

    Just about to give green smoothies a crack, and wondering if beets go in raw? And what about swiss chard – do you cook to reduce the oxalic acid? And remove the stems? Thx!

  12. Karen says:

    I make friends with every produce worker at my local grocery store. I ask tons of questions, they let me try items, etc… The honesty, friendship, and information saves me time, energy, money, and waste.

    Closest thing I could find to a local farmers market…..since there are none in my area that actually sell farm-fresh produce. They sell art and cards, etc…. Kinda frustrating.

    • SGS Rawkstar Jessie says:

      Awesome! Glad they are sharing their insight in their fresh produce. πŸ™‚

  13. Billine says:

    I always wash my fruits and veggies in a solution of vinegar and salt. I use a plastic wash tub, 1 cup of vinegar and 2 tablespoons of salt to a tub of water. Depending on the fruit or veggie I soak from half a minute to a minute then rinse. Berries half a minute, leafy greens a minute, apples, carrots cucumbers etc a minute then lightly scrub with veggies brush. It’s amazing the dirt and sometimes little bugs that come off your produce. I can’t always buy organic but even when I do I still soak.

  14. Samantha says:

    So they say ‘organic’…. but how do you know if they are ACTUALLY organic? Just curious.

    • MIKE says:

      All produce is marked. If its organic, it will include the USDA Organic sticker. Also look for the stickers on fruits and veg (PLU codes). If it begins with an 8, then its a GMO product, begins with 4 means conventionally grown, Begins with 9, then its organic.

  15. tifa says:

    but, its very difficult to get organic product in my town πŸ™

    • SGS Rawkstar Dan says:

      That’s ok, Tifa! Fruit and veggies are better than no fruit and veggies… even if they aren’t organic! Do what you can do!

  16. Elena Iskandar says:

    Are these smoothies sufficient as a breakfast meal on its own or we do need to complement the smoothie with sth else for a complete nutritious breakfast. If so, what foods do u suggest that goes with the smoothie for a complete breakfast.

  17. Crystal says:

    Hello Jadah and Jen,
    I just signed up for the April challenge today with two of my coworkers and we are so excited!!!
    I have an ordinary blender and a Breville Juicer. Which would you recommend for the challenge? I may have a mini power blender(cant remember the brand name) hanging around in my kitchen too.
    Thanks in advance πŸ™‚

    • SGS Rawkstar Dan says:

      Hey Crystal!
      Our site is all about blending green smoothies, so any ordinary blender or mini power blender will do πŸ™‚ Some people follow along with their juicers, but we don’t really have much advice for them since we aren’t too experienced with juicing.

  18. Angela says:


    Do you ever use cucumber? I have been looking through you recipes and have not seen it. Could I use that instead of banana?
    Also what about pumpkin? or would that be gross.
    Are there any other veggies you use or just the greens?

  19. Michelle says:

    Sorry if this is mention somewhere already, but when using Kale and spinach, do you clean it and use it right away in a smoothie or should I cook it first and then put in a smoothie? Also is it the same for storing it? Is there a difference if I’m using organic produce or not?

  20. wajansen says:

    In Miami area. Look up “Jerry’s Here” in different locations at farmers markets. His produce in not sprayed and is absolutely beautiful. His cell number is 305-506-5279. He is at different markets throughout the week. He is honest, hard working, and fun to talk with.

  21. Gelinda says:

    I’ve also found the best deal on organic fruits and veggies at Trader Joe’s.

  22. Gelinda says:

    I’ve also had the best luck at Trader Joe’s.

  23. Lauren says:

    I will definately try to buy organic after seeing this, but what’s your recommended way of cleaning nonorganic produce?

  24. saray says:

    So this list is for regular produce or organic

    • Hi Saray!
      The top section (Dirty Dozen) are the fruits/veggies that have the most pesticides used on them on average. This means that you should really try to buy those items organic if you are going to be anything organic πŸ™‚

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About Jen Hansard

Mom of 2, ran across the Grand Canyon and lover of smoothies, coffee & tacos. I transformed my family's health with a realistic plant-based diet. I also found myself again along the way.

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