Every year the Environmental Working Group puts out a list of the top twelve fruits and vegetables most contaminated by pesticide residue.  They do their testing after washing or peeling the fruit or veg, as appropriate.  The results are very interesting!  You can find information about methodology and interesting results on the EWG foodnews site.

Eating any fruit or vegetables is going to be better than eating none so I generally recommend choosing conventional produce if you are choosing between that and, say, a box of crackers.  However, you will significantly reduce your pesticide exposure if you buy the following 12 items organically, or opt for different fruits and veggies instead.

The Dirty Dozen
Apples
Celerly
Sweet bell peppers
Peaches
Strawberries
Nectarines – Imported
Grapes
Spinach
Lettuce
Cucumbers
Blueberries – domestic
Potatoes

This year they added a PLUS category to point out that organophosphates, a neurotoxic insecticide, was found on two items that didn’t have enough pesticides to get them into the top dozen:  green beans and kale/collard greens.  So really, it should be the Dirty Twelve plus two.

Contrast that with the Clean Fifteen, the fifteen least-contaminated fruit and vegetables in this year’s testing.

The Clean Fifteen
Onions
Sweet Corn
Pineapple
Avocado
Cabbage
Sweet peas
Asparagus
Mangoes
Eggplant
Kiwi
Cantaloupe – domestic
Sweet potatoes
Grapefruit
Watermelon
Mushrooms
If you’re like me, you stand in the produce aisle and can’t remember whether it’s potatoes or tomatoes that are dirty or clean.  Lucky for us, there is a handy and free EWG Dirty Dozen app for your phone.  I whole heartedly recommend it.  It even has a “full list” feature that ranks all 49 of the tested produce, so you can make an informed choice when you’re planning your meals, allocating your budget and filling your cart.

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