The Dirty Dozen and The Clean 15

An apple a day keeps the doctor away.


It’s healthy to eat your fruit and vegetables, right? But a report issued in 2010 by the President’s Cancer Panel recommended eating produce without pesticides to reduce your risk of getting cancer and other diseases. Certain pesticides have been identified as potential carcinogens, endocrine disruptors and have been associated with learning and developmental delays in children.

The Environmental Working Group (an organization of scientists, researchers and policymakers), has created two lists, “The Dirty Dozen” and “The Clean 15,” to help you know when it’s important to buy organic and when it is unnecessary. EWG makes clear that despite pesticide exposure, the health benefits outweigh the risks of eating fruits and vegetables, and they encourage shoppers to use their guide to determine which fruits and veggies should be bought organic.

When considering the cost value in buying organic products for your own health, you can expand the scope to include the health benefits to the many farmworkers (not being exposed to pesticides), the reduction of soil and water contamination, benefits to environmental sustainability, and the financial benefits to local economies from the survival of family farms and rural lifestyles.

The 2012 Dirty Dozen: 12 Most Contaminated (best to buy organic)

  • Apples
  • Celery
  • Sweet bell peppers
  • Peaches
  • Strawberries
  • Nectarines (imported)
  • Grapes
  • Spinach
  • Lettuce
  • Cucumbers
  • Blueberries (domestic)
  • potatoes

The 2012 Clean 15—Lowest in Pesticides

  • Onions
  • Sweet corn
  • Pineapples
  • avocado
  • cabbage
  • sweet peas
  • asparagus
  • mangoes
  • eggplant
  • Kiwi
  • Cantaloupe (domestic)
  • Sweet potatoes
  • Grapefruit
  • Watermelon
  • Mushrooms

Source: EWG’s 2012 Shopper’s Guide to Pesticides in Produce™


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