‘Dirty Dozen’ of Produce Helps Consumers Decide What Foods To Avoid

Every year, the Environmental Working Group (EWG) releases  its “dirty dozen” and ”clean 15″ lists. These reports detail the fruits and vegetables containing the highest and lowest pesticide residues.

The goal of the dirty dozen list is to encourage consumers to avoid these items or buy organic. In addition, the “clean 15″ list contains items that have the least pesticides; therefore, do not require buying organic. The data is collected from the USDA’s Pesticide Data Program, which records the amount of pesticide residue in agricultural commodities from state and federal agencies.

Onions, flickr: sleepyneko

Dirty Dozen 2011

  1. Apples (98% of apples had pesticides)
  2. Celery
  3. Strawberries
  4. Peaches
  5. Spinach
  6. Nectarines (imported)
  7. Grapes (imported)
  8. Sweet bell peppers
  9. Potatoes
  10. Blueberries (domestic)
  11. Lettuce
  12. Kale/collard greens

Clean Fifteen 2011

  1. Onions
  2. Sweet corn
  3. Pineapples
  4. Avocado
  5. Asparagus
  6. Sweet peas
  7. Mangoes
  8. Eggplants
  9. Cantaloupe (domestic)
  10. Kiwi
  11. Cabbage
  12. Watermelon
  13. Sweet potatoes
  14. Grapefruit
  15. Mushrooms

According to the EWG website:

If you choose 5 servings of fruits and vegetables a day from EWG’s Clean 15 rather than the Dirty Dozen, you can lower the volume of pesticide you consume daily by 92 percent, according to EWG calculations. You’ll also eat fewer types of pesticides. Picking 5 servings of fruits and vegetables from the 12 most contaminated would cause you to consume an average of 14 different pesticides a day. If you choose 5 servings from the 15 least contaminated fruits and vegetables, you’ll consume fewer than 2 pesticides per day.

Download the EWG’s guide to dirty and clean produce here.