The Dirty Dozen

The Dirty Dozen

(FYI This Blog Has Nothing Whatsoever To Do With The 60s War Movie)


I usually shop at budget grocery stores, and occasionally Whole Foods (the guacamole!  the curried chicken wraps! the dark chocolate truffles!)  Recently, however, I have been shopping exclusively at Whole Foods so that I don't feel like a total hypocrite endorsing a healthy lifestyle whilst scarfing bags of brand-less salt and vinegar potato chips as I stream episodes of The Blacklist on my laptop.  As an aside, IN MY OPINION it is amazing how little you get for $100 at certain organic grocery chains  when compared to similar grocery chains that I shall ambiguously call Trading Joseph's, for legal purposes.  If you are going to splurge on organics, what are the absolutely best choices you can make to get the most for your money? The answer: "The Dirty Dozen."  TDD is worth spending $100 on (seriously, I have spent this much just on two weeks worth of fruit and veggies before. $3 Pomegranates add up, yo).  But finances are not the only legitimate reason to shop the List.
I recently took a Professional Development mini seminar through my school district that was essentially Nutrition For Idiots: Teachers Edition.  I already knew about most of the "tips" the Nutritionists were imparting to us from years of  reading magazines like Shape and Self (while I was scarfing Tropical Skittles and streaming Downton Abbey on my laptop, positioned ergonomically on my tummy).  But I digress.  A few colleagues were listening attentively and taking notes.  I was profoundly bored and wondering what Sephora products the Michelle Pfeiffer lookalike Nutritionist uses to keep her 40-something skin so luminescent. Here’s the kicker: the most radiant, beautiful women of a certain age eat crazy amounts of produce.  Call it "The Gwyneth Paltrow Dorian Grey Effect."

A plant-based diet delivers mega doses of antioxidants, which fight the free radicals that cause premature aging.  This means sallow, wrinkly, brown-spotted, dull complexions can be effectively cured by eating your greens!  And you'll poop like crazy (the fiber!) I maybe get in 2, or 3 servings on a good day, of apples and baby carrots.  However, government food guides tell us that adults need 7-9 servings of a variety of produce across the colour spectrum.  Each colour corresponds to a nutrient that we need for good health.  For example, oranges, squash, and carrots all contain beta carotene, beneficial for eyesight.

So what does my rambling narrative have to do with "The Dirty Dozen?"  The fewer synthetic compounds that come in contact with our produce, the more antioxidants and micronutrients they contain (remember, all that colour?).  "The Dirty Dozen" is a list of 12 rainbow bright foods that contain non-porous skins, through which these hazardous chemicals used in food production cannot seep in.  Bye, bye, beneficial antioxidants, hello, man-made chemicals. BONUS: 3 of "The Dirty Dozen" are yummy, colour-drenched berries, which are Vitamin C powerhouses, a boon for our immune systems during cold/flu season.  

Please print out this list and take it with you the next time you go shopping.  And email me any questions or topics you'd like to see in my next blog, at





• Grapes
• Peaches
• Nectarines
• Apples
• Strawberries
• Blueberries
• Cherries
• Celery
• Bell peppers
• Spinach, kale and collard greens
• Potatoes
• Lettuce