A diet rich in fruits and vegetables is vital for promoting optimal health. Fruits and vegetables contain nutrients, minerals, and fiber that are essential for the body to function at its best. According to the USDA, the recommended serving for fruit is 2 cups per day and for vegetables is 2.5 cups per day. Studies conducted within the last 5 years by the USDA revealed that a majority of Americans consume only 65% of the recommended servings for fruits and vegetables. 

It can be challenging to consume the USDA’s recommended servings of fruits and vegetables. Another challenge is the idea that you should only buy and eat organic produce. Organic produce and products have been rising in popularity over the recent years.  Although organic produce is a great option if you are concerned about pesticides, purchasing all organic produce can be more expensive and difficult for individuals who shop on a budget. In fact, it can discourage shoppers from buying fruits and vegetables altogether. 

What is the Dirty Dozen?

EWG's Dirty DozenThe Environmental Working Group (EWG) has made purchasing and consuming more fruits and vegetables trouble -free by releasing The Dirty Dozen. Each year the Environmental Working Group releases a list of 12 fruits and vegetables that are known to contain the highest levels of pesticides according to research conducted by the U.S. Department of Agriculture. 

In other words, it is recommended these 12 fruits and vegetables be purchased organic, while other fruit and vegetables can be purchased conventionally. By purchasing the dirty dozen organic, you can improve your exposure to pesticides by 60%. 

Conventional fruits and vegetables are still better than none at all.

If going organic still does not fit your budget, focus on filling your cart with fruits and vegetables that are not on the dirty dozen list. Loading up on conventional or frozen fruits or vegetables is still better than none at all. 

You can read more nutrition tips by visiting the AZ Dietitians blog, where you will find articles on how to eat healthy on a budget, keeping produce fresh, and 12 ways to eat more fruits and vegetables. 

Written by: Lexi Nazzaro, Dietetic Intern Information adapted from: usda.gov and ewg.org

Photo from @lexicolby_ by Lexi Nazzaro, Dietetic Intern