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Dirty Dozen And Clean Fifteen

Hey You! Hope you’re having an AMAZING week?

It’s easy to be glib on a blog, joke around and have a giggle. However, I know it’s not all pretty/easy/happy for everyone every day. I’m on social media a lot these days and I read about people’s tough days often enough. So with that in mind, I hope, if you’re having not so great a week, that my posts in the next couple of weeks will help you with your food choices.

You Ate WHAT?!

I’m sure you’ve heard plenty of people like me talk about how important it is to make the right choices when buying food. Reading labels is key. Yadda yadda.

Of course, organic is still impossibly expensive for some and to be honest, it’s a crying shame, because it’s that very type of produce that should be more available to everyone.

In the UK recently, a programme was screened with a UK based family living for several weeks in a difference decade each week. Loved it! Mum, dad, 2 teenage girls and a young lad.  They began living as we did in the UK during the 40’s, moved through the 50’s, 60’s, 70’s, 80’s and 90’s, right up till the first decade of the noughties.

  • In the 40’s, rationing meant that meals were simple, often lacking in vital nutrients. People often grew their own vegetables during the war and a portion of meat for a family of 5 would often not feed 1 man for a 1 meal.
  • During the 50’s, post war rationing continued on for a while and larders were still stocked very simply, with limited choices and cooking equipment basic.
  • The 60’s marked the advent of .. wait for it .. the fridge!!! Well, I was born in 1963 and don’t recall the years where fridges weren’t part of our day to day lives. Can you imagine having to buy almost everything daily? In fact, the plus side of pre-fridge days – on a purely social level – was that a woman’s role was very much in the home (circa 70 hours of housework a week, including washing, ironing, cleaning, cooking everything from scratch – ouch!) so popping out to buy food meant interaction with the local shopkeepers/residents and was in fact a welcome addition to many people’s day.
  • Can you believe that (now I think I recall this statistic correctly!) only around 20% of people had fridges in the first 2-3 years of their launch? Why? Most people chose a television as more essential than a fridge. Whoa! I can’t get my head around that one! 😉
  • And so we moved to the 70’s. Women were working more, convenience food became a big deal and family life as we knew it traditionally was changing. Less home cooked meals around the table together and more solo efforts with frozen and pre-packaged food. Of course, this is when we succumbed to the decline of food (in my humble opinion.) … I was lucky enough to have a mum who produced home cooked meals, so we weren’t one of the families who grew up on convenience food, but tastes were changing  …
  • The 80’s brought in a decade of decadence. Nouvelle cuisine – a tiny but beautiful display of food – often served on very late plate! – and high prices to indulge in a sea of flavours, textures and foods that were emerging for the first time in the UK. It was also the decade when take away restaurants launched and began to flourish.
  • The 90’s? Well, we were deep in the low fat era by then. Since the 70’s, sugar had been a feature of packaged food. With the advent of low fat products, sugar became an ever-present ingredient. With fat removed from food, the quality of taste was reduced. What’s it replaced with? Often … sugar. Or hidden sugars!
  • At the end of the series, the programme reflected back on the previous decades and hopped forward to the future. They speculated and mused about how the food industry would progress and suggested that perhaps a way out of this food trap we are currently in (if you know the packaged and frozen aisles of your supermarket better than the fresh produce … are you making the right choices?) could be to heavily tax junk/packaged food and ease up the taxes on organic producers/retailers. Sound too simple? I’m not a politician, a retailer or finance genius .. but to me that sounds like a darned fine idea! And they tested their theory out on the ‘TV family’ …

Wooooo! This Could Be Our Future!

One of the presenters took them out to town for an afternoon and stopped by a burger van.  After the hardships and rigidity of their 6 week TV food regime, a burger for all was warmly welcomed!

Signs on the van indicated the ‘usual price’ of a burger .. with a cross through that .. and displayed the new ‘taxed’ price of that same item. Suddenly, a simple ‘fast food treat’ became a rather large investment for a family of 5. In the spirit of the programme, and considering how they would react if that were to really be the case, they opted for 1 burger and some chips to share between them.

The consensus was that, should organic options be more reasonably priced than the new fast food offerings, it would force them to reconsider their decisions. How clever? I LOVE this idea!

Why have I shared this story with you? Well, I found the series to be a fun and educational reflection on recent decades. Interestingly, when assessing the general diet of the population, we were eating FAR more healthily in the 40’s and 50’s – even considering the food restrictions – because of the fact that food was local/organic/home cooked.

We were healthier. Funny. That.

Fast forward to today … with my U.S. social media friends telling me it’s all but impossible to know if you’re buying GMO foods any longer and with little information anywhere, it seems, about the true nature of what goes ON and IN even our fresh vegetables and fruit before they land in our shopping baskets, here is a list of what is considered to be:

The Dirty Dozen and The Clean Fifteen

What are they?

I’ll let you read the link to see a clear outline. Better for you to read if from the organisation that put this data together. They are a respected non-profit environmental research organisation that collect data to help you, the consumer, make better choices.

The Dirty Dozen is the list of fresh foods that are most likely to contain pesticides that we should avoid. And plenty of them it seems!

The Clean Fifteen are the best of the foods you could choose to buy NON organic.

Why this list? It’s about helping consumers who don’t have unlimited budgets – and let’s face it, that’s most of us .. right? 😉 – buy non organic for the safer foods.

Here’s the list for you to copy and paste or type into your phone, so when you shop in future, you have your guide to hand. Do read the link as well. Knowledge is power! Knowledge also means: The Key To Better Health! (Don’t be fooled that if you’re okay today you’ll be okay forever. You may well be and I do hope so! However, what we put on our skins and in our bodies has a real impact on our future health … Remember that when you make your food choices. 🙂 )


The Dirty Dozen

  1. Apples
  2. Peaches
  3. Nectarines
  4. Strawberries
  5. Grapes
  6. Celery
  7. Spinach
  8. Sweet Bell Peppers
  9. Cucumbers
  10. Cherry Tomatoes
  11. Snap Peas – imported
  12. Potatoes

New to the list above: (I think this is being considered as the new few!) … 

Hot Peppers

Kale/Collard Greens

The Clean Fifteen

  1. Avocadoes
  2. Sweet Corn
  3. Pineapples
  4. Cabbage
  5. Sweet Peas (frozen)
  6. Onions
  7. Asparagus
  8. Mangos
  9. Papayas
  10. Kiwi
  11. Eggplant
  12. Grapefruit
  13. Cantaloupe
  14. Cauliflower
  15. Sweet Potatoes

Be sure to read this link. It gives more detail about how this list is compiled, talks about pregnancy and baby foods and is a referral list for the health industry worldwide:


Finally, here’s the full list of 48 fruits and vegetables with pesticide residue data. The introduction at the top of the page explains how to read the number beside each food. The lower the number, the less pesticides!


Right! We’ve sorted you out to shop more effectively in future. I hope you’ve enjoyed this post and found it helpful.

Tomorrow I’ll post my recent vegan burger recipe. I’ve been asked for it a few times now. It’s very simple and goes with a fermented, curried mango chutney I recently created. Don’t forget to tune in if you’re looking for an alternative to the usual burger. It’s fun to experiment!

Toodle-oo for now!




About the Author Sarah Jackson

I love to experiment with food, write, read, walk by the river, watch vintage TV dramas, good documentaries and comedy.

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Leave a Comment:

Anna Welliver says

This Is a wonderful post!! I have to share this because all of the information in this is amazing!! I am not a person that knows about food, but what you share makes me want to know more!!

    Sarah Jackson says

    Thank you Anna. Happy to see you here and signed up Anna. I look forward to sharing lots more info with you going forward.

sarah hardy says

really interesting post. ive been eating lots of spinach and cherry tomatoes lately, think i will be having to make a few changes.

    Sarah Jackson says

    Glad you’ve found it helpful Sarah. It’s a good list to keep on your phone for when you’re out shopping anywhere. 🙂

Crystal Green says

This is such enlightening information. It rather scares me how much we have to worry about pesticides in our diets.

    Sarah Jackson says

    Glad you find it helpful Crystal. Yes, the more you read, the more worrying our current food supplies seem to be.

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