The Most Important Foods to Buy Organic (EWG’s Dirty Dozen & Clean Fifteen 2017)

clean fifteen and dirty dozen
Article by ross

It’s a question many people have: do I really need to buy organic – it’s so expensive

In an ideal world ALL fruits and vegetables would be organic, or next best – they’d be more affordable. But because buying 100% organic is out of reach for most people, either due to financial or availability constraints (or a bit of both) – the Environmental Working Group – every year undertakes the most in-depth research, to present to us the foods that are MOST and LEAST contaminated with pesticides.

They call it their ‘Dirty Dozen & Clean Fifteen List’ – a catalog of fruits and vegetables with the highest and lowest amounts of pesticide residue. Using this, you can be more selective about which foods you will go the extra mile for to get organic, and those where you can cut a little slack.

Here is the 2017 list:

The Dirty Dozen:

Strawberries
Spinach
Nectarines
Apples
Peaches
Pears
Cherries
Grapes
Celery
Tomatoes
Sweet bell peppers
Potatoes

The Clean Fifteen:

Sweet corn
Avocados
Pineapples
Cabbage
Onions
Sweet peas, frozen
Papaya
Asparagus
Mangos
Eggplant
Honeydew melon
Kiwi
Cantaloupe
Cauliflower
Grapefruit

Strawberries still top the “Dirty Dozen” list — in fact, one sample of strawberries had more than 20 different pesticides.

The increased insect burden has driven up pesticide use. While toxicity levels and concentrations vary by item, synthetic pesticides should be avoided (or severely limited) for infants, babies, and young children, the EWG reports.

Bottom line?

“Eating plenty of fruits and vegetables is essential no matter how they’re grown, but for the items with the heaviest pesticide loads, we urge shoppers to buy organic,” said EWG senior analyst Sonya Lunder in a statement. “If you can’t buy organic, the Shopper’s Guide will steer you to conventionally grown produce that is the lowest in pesticides.”

Here’s a list of the “Dirty Dozen” and the “Clean Fifteen” from the EWG.

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  1. tania Reply

    Hello Ross,
    What is your opinion about spicy chili peppers, jalapeño, poblano?
    Thank you.

  2. Anne Heerikhuisen Reply

    Can you find a list for Holland (or other countries), for they say the policies are very strict here?

  3. Nina Reply

    Hi, Ross–thanks for this. The EWG is an American group, and thankfully in Europe standards are a bit tighter so we have somewhat better protection in some areas. For example, the EWG website itself points out that some of the pesticides found in American strawberries are banned in Europe. I was wondering if you might have access to a list thAt reflects what is on sale in the UK. Thanks.

    • ross Reply

      I’ll have a dig around…

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