The Dirty Dozen (and the Clean Fifteen)

By Rachel Sircy

So, in my attempts to eat healthier this year, I am buying a lot more vegetables and fruits. But, it turns out that not all fruits and vegetables are created equal. It matters (at least to me) that the fruits and vegetables that I eat and that I feed to my family are as chemical free as possible. Of course, the best place to find fresh fruits and vegetables that are chemical free (or close to it) is the farmer’s market. I’ve already written about how much I love the SC State Farmer’s Market. You really can do pretty much all your produce shopping there. And, even if the farmers can’t afford to purchase the “organic” label for their produce, it’s likely that since they’re not farming on a huge scale, like the corn and soybean farmers in the Midwest – they’re the farmers who supply the stuff used to make high fructose corn syrup, etc. – that they’re not spraying some of the crazy chemicals on their produce that a huge corporate farm would. Plus, local produce hasn’t had chemicals added or been processed in a weird way in order to keep it fresh during shipping, because it hasn’t had to travel far to get to you. And the prices of this fresh, local produce are not as high as you’d

However, most of us can’t make it to the farmer’s market for a leisurely shopping experience. If you’re like me, you go to the grocery store when you’ve run out of all of your kitchen staples and you’re desperate. And most of us probably try to squeeze our shopping in after work and in between running our kids to this sporting event or band concert or what have you. Unfortunately, the price of organic produce can be prohibitively expensive for some (including me) at the grocery store. Of course, places like Aldi and Lidl (which just opened in Lexington), carry a variety of organic products for fairly cheap. However, if you can’t get to an Aldi or to the new Lidl, or if the prices are still out of the range of your budget, you can choose which fruits and vegetables to buy organic by following the guidelines of the clean fifteen and the dirty dozen.

If you’re not already familiar with these lists – the clean fifteen and the dirty dozen are two lists of fruits and vegetables that are released every year by the Environmental Working Group. The Clean Fifteen is the list of the fifteen fruits and vegetables that are least likely to contain pesticides or which contain fewer pesticides than your average fruits and veggies. So, the produce listed on the Clean Fifteen list are probably pretty safe to eat even if they’re not organic. In other words, these are the things that you can get away with just buying the regular, cheaper version of. And yes, you guessed it, that means that the Dirty Dozen is a list of the produce that is MOST likely to have pesticides. So, if you can only afford to get a limited number of organic fruits or vegetables, choose the organic version of anything you want or need that is on the Dirty Dozen list. Sometimes I have just planned my shopping list around the items on the clean fifteen list, so that I didn’t have to worry about buying organic!

You can find the 2018 lists and a lot of other resources at or you can just look below, since I’m going to write out the lists for you 😊

The CLEAN FIFTEEN:avocado-2644150_1920

  1. Avocados
  2. Sweet Corn
  3. Pineapples
  4. Cabbages
  5. Onions
  6. Frozen Sweet Peas
  7. Papayas
  8. Asparagus
  9. Mangoes
  10. Eggplants
  11. Honeydew Melons
  12. Kiwis
  13. Cantaloupes
  14. Cauliflower
  15. Broccoli


The DIRTY DOZENstrawberry-2960533_1920

  1. Strawberries
  2. Spinach
  3. Nectarines
  4. Apples
  5. Grapes
  6. Peaches
  7. Cherries
  8. Pears
  9. Tomatoes
  10. Celery
  11. Potatoes
  12. Sweet Bell Peppers (they also list Hot Peppers as a 2018 Dirty Dozen member)


Happy Shopping!

The Magic Snack

By: Elizabeth Webber Akre

For quite some time, I’ve read posts and comments from friends about kale chips.  I like kale.  I want to learn more about kale.  Kale is the superman of vegetables, according to many.  We need more kale.  But, I’ve never had kale chips.

There are two groceries at which I prefer to shop.  The one I frequent most often only carries kale that is already chopped and bagged.  And when I say chopped, I mean CHOPPED. I’ve picked up those bags a zillion times, looking, pondering, and coming to the conclusion that kale bits could never be considered a “chip.”  They’d be kale crumbs, at best.  Today, I went to my 2nd favorite grocery and I spotted it.  Now, it wasn’t just a bunch of kale.  No, this was a gargantuan bunch of kale.  Huge.  So, now I have no excuse to delay any longer on my quest to learn more, cook more and eat more kale. I’m making chips.

Before I tell you anything more, let me just throw in an enthusiastic “OMG.”  I’ll go so far as to say “Kale yeah!”

Looks like money, as Guy Fieri would say

This is my new favorite snack, hands down.  So easy to make, so delicious, so different and packed with super goodness.  I feel like I’m going to live forever all ready.  I’m eating them right now.  Okay, I confess, I’m on my 2nd batch.  But as far as I know, no one ever got fat from too much kale.

I’m sure there are many variations on the theme, as is always the case, but here’s how I did it.  I cut the leaves away from the rib and then tore the leaves into “chip” sizes.  Then, I washed the leaves and spun and spun and spun in my salad spinner to dry them well.  Add half the kale to a large Ziploc, add 1 ½ tsp olive oil, add rest of kale, 1 ½ tsp olive oil, close bag and gently shake and massage to coat all leaves.  Spread out in an even layer on a baking sheet, sprinkle with seasoned salt and bake at 350 degrees for about 13 minutes.  Viola!  Kale chips ready to munch on.

Crispy, crunchy chips made from the super-veg!

So, you’re probably saying something like, “Hey, Elizabeth, how much kale did you use?”  Well, you’re going to get the answer that drives my husband crazy – “Until it looks right.”  In this case, I tore enough leaves to fill up my salad spinner and took it from there.  I’m sure some of you are reading this and thinking, “Kale?”  Never, ever, ever.  If you are that person, I challenge you to try this snack just once.  If you don’t like it, so be it.  You tried it.  If you do like it, you’ll be glad I made you do it!