Dirty Dozen

Have you heard of the Dirty Dozen (and attendant Clean 15)? These are the 12 most pesticide-laden fruits and vegetables that we eat. Why bring attention to them? Because with these particular foods, it’s important to buy organic.

Why buy organic? Well, we all know that pesticides are bad for us. And while we might not all have the budget to go totally organic, there are some organic items we can purchase to maximize the healthy foods we eat, and minimize our pesticide intake – all with an eye on our grocery budget.

According to the USDA Pesticide Data Program, these pesticides contain carcinogens, hormone disruptors, neurotoxins, developmental or reproductive toxins, and environmental toxins. It’s scary, isn’t it? By choosing to eat these particular organic foods, you can significantly reduce your pesticide intake and exposure.

To avoid the worst of the bunch, avoid eating these dirty dozen+ conventionally grown fruits and vegetables:

Here are the top foods in the dirty dozen (actually 14!):


Here’s why – a variety of pesticides are used so heavily on apples, it shows up in apple products, such as applesauce and apple juice.

There’s a fungus that attacks strawberries, ruining the crop – so most strawberry farmers use pesticides.

The USDA Pesticide Data Program has shown grapes to have 56 types of pesticides on them. This goes for raisins, too, of course.

Tests have shown over 60 kinds of pesticides on celery. Studies note that this is the worst offender for pesticides in fresh food.

Indeed, conventional peaches have 62 pesticides on them, including 20 that carry honeybee toxins, and 12 neurotoxins.

Canned spinach, frozen spinach, and fresh leafy spinach each have over 50 pesticides used on them.

Sweet Bell Peppers
Love bell peppers? Indeed, they are so tasty! But without organic, you’re consuming over 50 types of pesticide with each crunchy bite.

Some say that imported nectarines are worse, but all nectarines that aren’t organic present more than 30 types of pesticides.

Cucumbers, oh cucumbers – with 86 pesticides? Yikes! Peeling them will reduce the intake, but this is an important one to avoid.

Because potatoes are grown underground, the pesticide seeps right in. And, with potatoes, most of the nutrition is in the skin. With conventional potatoes, you’ll find 35 different types of pesticide residue.

Cherry Tomatoes
Each cherry tomato can contain up to 69 different pesticides (regular tomatoes show 35 different types of pesticide).

Hot Peppers
Why are these among the worse, with 75 different types of pesticide? I am not sure, but definitely buy organic!

Kale/Collard Greens
We LOVE kale, especially in our morning kale smoothies (don’t knock it until you’ve tried it!). However, conventionally grown kale has been found to have 55 different pesticide residues.

Summer Squash/zucchini
We also love zucchini, but their tender skin absorbs the pesticides very easily.

For more information, you can look up individual food items at: http://www.whatsonmyfood.org/



Need a reminder? Here you go

(click for a printable shopping list for the Dirty Dozen Clean Fifteen):


dirty dozen  and the clean fifteen


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