Organic Produce: The Dirty Dozen and The Clean Fifteen

Every year, the Environmental Working Group (EWG) breaks down which fruits and vegetables contain the most pesticide residues.  The EWG’s 2015 Shopper’s Guide to Pesticides in Produce states a whopping two-thirds of the over 3,000 samples tested by the USDA in 2013 contained approximately one or more of 165 different pesticides.  Even more alarming, the pesticides remained on the fruits and vegetables even after they were washed and peeled.

Purchasing all organic and local produce is ideal, however not always affordable or feasible.  To help make informed decisions about what goes in your grocery cart, and subsequently in your mouth, there are two lists containing produce with both the highest and lowest levels of pesticides.

The Dirty Dozen:

  • Apples
  • Peaches
  • Nectarines
  • Strawberries
  • Grapes
  • Celery
  • Spinach
  • Sweet Bell Peppers
  • Cucumbers
  • Cherry Tomatoes
  • Imported Snap Peas
  • Potatoes
  • Leafy Greens and Hot Peppers – Not formally considered part of the Dirty Dozen, but are frequently contaminated with insecticides toxic to the human nervous system.

The Clean Fifteen:

  • Avocados
  • Sweet Corn
  • Pineapples
  • Cabbage
  • Frozen Sweet Peas
  • Onions
  • Asparagus
  • Mangoes
  • Papayas
  • Kiwis
  • Eggplant
  • Grapefruit
  • Cantaloupe
  • Cauliflower
  • Sweet Potatoes

Eating organic produce ensures you consume fewer pesticides, but it is very important to wash all fruits and vegetables before consumption.  As a Mom, I try to buy all organic, as long-term studies have indicated impaired brain development in children.  The American Academy of Pediatrics has cited research that “linked pesticide exposure in early life with pediatric cancers, decreased cognitive function, and behavioral problems.”  Yikes!  No thanks.

If you have a terrible memory like I do, see below for an easy cheat sheet to bring with you to the grocery store.




EWG’s 2015 Shopper’s Guide to Pesticides in Produce

American Academy of Pediatrics; Organic Foods: Health and Environmental Advantages and Disadvantages

2014 USDA Pesticide Data Program

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