THE DIRTY DOZEN & THE CLEAN FIFTEEN

Is it better to eat an unwashed apple than no apple at all? Well… that depends. Did you get your apple from the organic market or from Safeway? You see, apples are one member of the “Dirty Dozen” – the 12 produce items most likely to contain traces of pesticides.

Consuming pesticides has been linked to numerous health concerns, including developmental problems in children and hormone disruptions in adults. Now, these 12 items are not forbidden completely – but the Environmental Working Group strongly suggests purchasing these items from organic grocers and farmers markets. Not only will you support your local economy, but you’ll reduce your exposure to pesticides.

So what makes up the Dirty Dozen? Apples, of course. Strawberries come in second in pesticide residue. Grapes, peaches, celery, spinach, bell peppers, imported nectarines, cucumbers, potatoes, cherry tomatoes, and hot peppers round out the list. Again, this doesn’t mean you can’t eat these items! But you may want to consider purchasing organic, or even try growing them yourself! Many of the items on this list flourish in home gardens, and can be coaxed into multiple harvests over the course of a summer.

Purchasing organic isn’t an option for everyone. Organic produce is often more expensive, and not everyone lives near a Whole Foods or other organic grocer. You can still avoid pesticides by focusing on the Clean Fifteen instead – 15 items that tested clean for detectable levels of pesticides after washing.

Number one on the list? Sweet corn. Get ready for some delicious corn on the cob this summer, and nibble away pesticide-free! Onions and mushrooms also made the list of clean produce. Several tropical species qualified, including pineapple, avocado, papaya, and mango. Cabbage, asparagus, eggplant, and sweet potatoes round out the vegetables. Fruit salad for breakfast is also safe, since grapefruit, cantaloupe, and kiwi all made the list.

Now, regardless of whether you purchase the Dirty Dozen or the Clean Fifteen, washing your produce before consuming it is always a good idea. To learn more about the EWG’s Shopping Guide, visit their site here.

Image Credit: Tami Vroma