The Environmental Working Group (EWG) have updated their Dirty Dozen™ and Clean Fifteen™ list for 2017.  What’s changed?

The Dirty Dozen™

If you are unfamiliar with the Dirty Dozen™, it is a list (created by EWG) of 12 fruits and vegetables that have the highest levels of pesticide residues in them. This means that if you are buying any of these, and you can afford it, you should prioritize to buy organic versions to reduce your pesticide intake.

The Clean Fifteen™

In contrast to the Dirty Dozen, the Clean Fifteen™ fruits and vegetables contain the least pesticide residues, meaning that if budget or availability is an obstacle to buying organic, you can buy conventionally grown varieties of these fruits and vegetables. 

Both lists were created from test results from the US Department of Agriculture (USDA). The USDA found 178 different pesticides or pesticide products on the samples they analyzed. These pesticides remained on the fruits and vegetables even when they were washed, and in some cases, peeled. 

As pesticides can cause detrimental effects on our health, the guides are useful as they suggest the foods you should really focus on buying organic and those that have less pesticides, so if finances/availability are difficult, you can get away with buying non-organic.  

On the Dirty 12™ list 

Prioritize to buy these foods organic (although the best bet is to try and buy everything organic).

The list is in order – from highest loads of pesticide:

  1. Strawberries
  2. Spinach
  3. Nectarines
  4. Apples
  5. Peaches
  6. Celery
  7. Grapes
  8. Pears
  9. Cherries
  10. Tomatoes
  11. Sweet bell peppers
  12. Potatoes

Strawberries really seem to the pesticide bad guys. A single sample of strawberries showed 20 different pesticides!   They were the top of the list last year too. 

Spinach had on average, twice as much pesticide residue by weight than any other crop!

Pears and potatoes were new on the dirty list – displacing cherry tomatoes and cucumbers.

On the Clean 15™ list

These are much less likely to contain pesticide residues. The list, starting with the least pesticides is:

  1. Sweet corn *
  2. Avocado
  3. Pineapple
  4. Cabbage
  5. Onions
  6. Sweet peas, frozen
  7. Papaya *
  8. Asparagus
  9. Mango
  10. Eggplant
  11. Honeydew melon
  12. Kiwi
  13. Canteloupe melon
  14. Cauliflower
  15. Grapefruit

Key *  Some sweet corn and papaya sold in the US are produced from genetically modified seeds.  If you buy organic versions of these, you will avoid GMO.

The full list from most to least pesticides of 51 fruits and vegetables is here: EWG Fruit and vegetable pesticide list

The full report can be read here: EWG 2017 Shoppers Guide to Pesticides in Produce

Kathie reviewed the EWG website if you want to learn more about them. 

If you fancy giving a donation to EWG – you can get a bag tag which includes both lists, so you have them with you when you go shopping. Be a wise shopper. 

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