Every year, the Environmental Working Group (EWG) comes out with a Dirty Dozen list: 12 fruits and vegetables with the highest level of pesticide contamination after being washed. They recommend buying organic versions of these fruits and veggies whenever possible, to minimize exposure to toxic and persistent pesticides.
Can’t afford organic produce, or don’t have access to it all the time? Look to the EWG’s Clean Fifteen List, which shows the conventionally produced fruits and veggies with the lowest pesticide levels. Focusing your produce consumption on the items on this list will help you avoid toxic chemicals, too.
The Dirty Dozen – 2013
- Cherry tomatoes
- Hot Peppers
- Imported nectarines
- Bell Peppers
- Kale/Collard Greens (part of the Dirty Dozen Plus list, because the pesticides used are particularly toxic)
- Zucchini (Dirty Dozen Plus for the same reason)
The Clean 15 – 2013
- Sweet corn (a.k.a the type of corn that you eat on a cob)
- Sweet peas – frozen
- Sweet potatoes
Remember: even though pesticides are potentially harmful, the benefits of eating fruits and vegetables far outweigh the risks of pesticide contamination. So if you’re on a limited budget, you are better off buying conventionally grown produce than avoiding fruits and vegetables altogether.
Curious how the list changed from last year? Here’s the Dirty Dozen and Clean 15 from 2012.