“Dirty Dozen” and “Clean Fifteen”

Posted by: Jeanette |

May 31, 2011 |

Comments (4)

Because the harmful effects of pesticides are worrisome, not well understood, or in some cases completely unstudied, it’s wise for us to limit exposure to pesticides whenever possible. Although washing fresh produce can reduce levels of some pesticides, it does not eliminate them. Peeling also reduces exposures, but important nutrients often get thrown away with the peel. The best choice is to eat a varied diet, wash all produce, and select organic when possible to lower exposure to potentially toxic chemicals.

Since many of us can’t always buy organic then it helps to know what conventional foods are safer choices. The Environmental Working Group (EWG) conducted a study to see which fruits and vegetables had the highest and lowest levels of pesticides. The EWG’s computer analysis found that we can cut our pesticide exposure by almost 90% by avoiding the most contaminated conventional fruits and veggies and eating the least contaminated instead. Here’s what they found: 

“2011 Dirty Dozen” 
(Most contaminated. Try to buy these organic.)

1. Apples
2. Celery
3. Strawberries
4. Peaches
5. Spinach
6. Imported Nectarines
7. Imported Grapes
8. Sweet Bell Peppers
9. Potatoes
10. Blueberries
11. Lettuce
12. Kale/Collard Greens
(The worst are apples, celery & strawberries.)

“Clean Fifteen”
(Lowest in pesticides, so you can eat them with less concern. Still wash them really well.)

1. Onions
2. Corn
3. Pineapples
4. Avocado
5. Asparagus
6. Sweet Peas
7. Mangos
8. Eggplant
9. Domestic Cantaloupe
10. Kiwi
11. Cabbage
12. Watermelon
13. Sweet Potatoes
14. Grapefruit
15. Mushrooms
(The best are onions, corn and pineapples.)

Reference: Environmental Working Group
Visit www.foodnews.org for a free download to a wallet-size shoppers guide.

My favorite place to get produce is at my neighborhood farmer’s market. It is satisfying to me to know that the money I spend there is supporting local farmers. Many of these growers avoid the use of genetic modification and chemicals and actually use organic methods, even if their farm isn’t “certified organic.” Ask them about it!

Do you have your own vegetable garden? Do you shop at your local farmer’s market?  Any suggestions for other readers about dealing with the pesticide issue on a budget?


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4 Responses to ““Dirty Dozen” and “Clean Fifteen””

  1. Cynthia says:

    Handy list. I’ll put it in my purse for shopping next time. I try to buy most things organic anyway, but sometimes it is just way too expensive. I really should start my own garden.

    • Jeanette says:

      Gardens are wonderful for sure. They just take a lot of time to maintain. I’ve had one on and off through the years. This year I did not plant anything. I miss having my own tomatoes. I agree that organic can be too expensive. I look for sales for sure. Glad to hear that you’ll use the list. Thanks To EWG for doing the research for us.

  2. Mary Walsh says:

    Thanks Jeanette, this is a really good article. One note on corn – you might want to buy organic corn because most domestic corn is grown from GMO seeds. Studies show that abnormal growth in children is being linked to food grown from GMO seeds.

    I love the way you listed the foods. Easy to shop with.

    ML, Mary

    • Jeanette says:

      Good info about corn, Mary. Thanks for sharing it with us. Actually, I’m not much of a corn eater at all because my body doesn’t like it. I think that a lot of people have trouble digesting corn. Unfortunately, many foods have corn in their ingredients. So we really need to be reading labels! I do my best to avoid all GMO foods. I try to stick to REAL FOOD as much as possible, as nature intended.

“If we’re not willing to settle for junk living, we certainly shouldn’t settle for junk food.” ~ Pioneer of the Olympic sport of triathlon, Sally Edwards

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