In an ideal world, you would just buy everything organic. But for many reasons – financial, availability, or otherwise – we aren’t able to. However, it at least helps to know that there are certain fruits and veggies that are more important to buy organic than others – often referred to as “the dirty dozen”.
The guide is issued annually and is based on results of more than 35,200 samples tested by the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the Food and Drug Administration. You should know that the fruits and vegetables that are tested are washed, scrubbed and, where applicable, peeled before testing — so it isn’t as if you can simply wash these pesticides off and get rid of them by soaking in vinegar water.
The top 15 foods with the least pesticides are called the “Clean 15”, while the 12 foods with the most pesticides referred to as the “Dirty Dozen”.
Certain fruits and vegetables that have been treated with more pesticides and herbicides than others or some tend to simply absorb more. Every year extensive testing is done on a wide range of fruits and vegetables to test for herbicide and pesticide residues. The Dirty Dozen are the 12 with the highest levels found and the clean-15 are fruits and veggies that have none or very little. The clean 15 are not so crucial to get organically grown, but those on the dirty dozen are very important.
This year, along with the items on the Dirty Dozen™ and Clean Fifteen™ lists, EWG.org is highlighting harmful fungicides detected on citrus fruits tested by USDA, as well as in tests that they commissioned. You can read more about that HERE. In this report they state:
Recent tests by EWG have revealed shockingly high levels of a cancer-linked fungicide in oranges and other citrus fruits. Imazalil is typically applied to citrus post-harvest to prolong the fruit’s shelf life, but this chemical can also disrupt the human hormone system and has been classified as a likely human carcinogen.
EWG found imazalil on nearly 90% of non-organic samples, and the average concentration was about 20 times higher than EWG’s recommended limit to protect children’s health. This is after peeling the fruit.
Imazalil, a fungicide that can change hormone levels and is classified by the Environmental Protection Agency as a likely human carcinogen, was detected on nearly 90 percent of citrus samples tested by EWG in 2020, and over 95 percent of tangerine samples tested by the USDA in 2019.” – EWG.org
These lists are updated each year based on testing. The list below is from 2021. If you learn these or make a list that you can use when you shop, it will make it easier to follow. These are listed below.
First, the Dirty Dozen:
- Kale, Collard and Mustard Greens
- Bell and Hot Peppers
In addition to those 12, there are others that would be good to get organic if you can as these also have higher levels of residue, although not as much as the top twelve. These include Potatoes (white and sweet), Lettuce, Blueberries, Cucumbers, Plums, Green Beans and Snap Peas, various citrus fruits such as Tangerines, Grapefruit, and Oranges, summer squashes, bananas, and various melons.
Now, the Clean 15
- Sweet corn
- Sweet Peas (frozen)
- Kiwi fruit
- Honeydew melon
So there you go. Exposing yourself and your family to the least possible amounts of dangerous chemicals can definitely help in the quality and longevity of life.