The Dirty Dozen & The Clean Fifteen

Pesticides seem to be an increasingly hot topic.  Why?  Well, because they can effect the healthiness of some of the foods we consider most healthy.  It’s not very much fun to think that the delicious, crisp red apple sitting on your kitchen counter is covered in chemical residue – but nowadays that just may be the truth.

I have taken an increased interest in this topic lately.  Growing up my mom always told me to wash my fruit before I ate it – but honestly I can only remember a few times where I ever actually listened to her.  It just seemed like a waste of time.  Fruit is healthy so why should I have to wash it?  I guess I didn’t mind the thought of a little dirt sticking to my blueberry.  Same went for vegetables.  My mom had one of those fun lettuce spinner things that she would use to dry off her lettuce after she washed it.  But as for me – I never picked up on her produce habits.  So as I ventured out of her house to be on my own I brought my bad habits with me.

I think a lot of the reason for my sudden interest in pesticides is simply because the topic is becoming very widespread.  It’s not just my mother talking about it anymore – it’s national news shows, TV shows, documentaries, blogs, etc.  So a concern that at one time seemed irrelevant, suddenly feels very relevant to me.  I still don’t mind a little dust or dirt on my fruit, but I do mind potentially hazardous chemicals.

The Dirty Dozen list highlights the produce that is likely to have the most pesticide comtamination.

“If pesticides are present on the surfaces of your fruits and vegetables, you can
definitely remove a substantial amount of those surface pesticides through
careful washing and light scrubbing. However, you cannot remove all of them nor can you remove pesticides that have been incorporated into the fruits and
vegetables while they were growing.” (source)

On the other hand, The Clean Fifteen are the top fifteen produce choices that are least likely to test positive for pesticides.

“This year, apples dethroned celery as the item of produce highest in pesticides, with 98% of conventional apples found to contain pesticides. “We think what’s happening to apples is more pesticides and fungicides are being applied after the harvest so the fruit can have a longer shelf life,” EWG analyst Sonya Lunder told USA Today. “Pesticides might be in small amounts, but we don’t know what the subtle, long-term effects of many of these pesticides are yet.” (source)

So these lists can be helpful if you are trying to decipher which fruits and vegtables are worth paying more for by choosing the organic option, and which ones don’t make much of a difference.

Without further ado, here are the EWG’s 2011 Shoppers Guide to Pesticides in Produce lists…

Dirty Dozen 

apples

celery

strawberries

peaches

spinach

nectarines (imported)

grapes (imported)

sweet bell peppers

potatoes

blueberries

lettuce

kale/collard greens

________________________________________________________________________

Clean Fifteen

Onions

sweet corn

pineapples

avocado

asparagus

sweet peas

mangoes

eggplant

cantaloupe

kiwi

cabbage

watermelon

sweet potatoes

 grapefruit

mushrooms

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