Every year Environmental Working Group (EWG) releases an updated Shopper’s Guide to Pesticides in Produce that shows you which conventionally grown produce has the least and most amounts of pesticides. Useful information when you’re trying to stretch your organic dollars.
The list, nicknamed the “Dirty Dozen” is in its 8th year, and includes updated information about 45 popular fruits and vegetables and their total pesticide loads. There weren’t many surprises for 2012.
The Dirty Dozen
The Dirty Dozen are the 12 fruits and veggies you should try your best to buy in organic form, because their conventional peers simply contain huge pesticide loads.
Last year, apples took worst honors on the Dirty Dozen list and have earned that distinction again, as EWG researchers found that 98% of conventional apples have detectable levels of pesticides. Keep reading to see the other 11 baddies on this year’s list.
Following are the top 12 produce items to buy organic…
- Sweet bell peppers
- Nectarines (imported)
- Blueberries (domestic)
Not a ton of changes this year other than potatoes are inching closer to fewer pesticides (potatoes are normally in a worse spot on the list) and kale/collard greens dropped off (barely, they’re at 13) while cucumbers popped onto the list. Some key facts from EWG…
- Domestic blueberries tested positive for 42 different pesticide residues.
- Seventy-eight different pesticides were found on lettuce samples.
- Every single nectarine USDA tested had measurable pesticide residues.
- As a category, grapes have more types of pesticides than any other fruit, with 64 different chemicals.
- Thirteen different pesticides were measured on a single sample each of celery and strawberries.
The Clean 15
The Clean 15 list includes fruits and veggies that are safer to buy in conventional form. Basically, produce on the Clean 15 list has smaller pesticide loads than other produce. I do advocate buying organic food whenever possible. However, if you’re on a tight budget, these are the less problematic produce items to buy in conventional form, so you can save some money here, while still eating plenty of produce.
The 2011 Clean 15 list includes (from least amount of pesticides to most)…
- Sweet corn
- Sweet peas (frozen)
- Cantaloupe (domestic)
- Sweet potatoes
New to the Shopper’s Guide for 2012: The Dirty Dozen Plus
This year EWG has expanded their Dirty Dozen with a Plus category to highlight two crops — green beans and leafy greens, meaning, kale and collard greens. EWG notes that while neither of these items met traditional Dirty Dozen criteria, both were commonly contaminated with highly toxic organophosphate insecticides – insecticides that are are toxic to the nervous system and have been largely removed from agriculture over the past decade.