Pesticides and Produce: The Clean 15 vs. the Dirty Dozen

Sep, 23, 2015

By Amanda Wilkes:

We live in a pick and choose world … even when we’re at the grocery store, the options are abundant. With today’s technology, we have the ability to make the best choice in most situations, including whether to buy foods that are known to have pesticides or to buy foods that don’t. Science has taken us to a brilliant new level of knowledge and understanding about the foods that we buy and eat. It is common knowledge also that “you are what you eat.” So why not combine the complex scientific knowledge that we have been given with the common sense we are innately gifted with and use them in conjunction?

Pesticides can be absorbed into fruits and vegetables, and leave trace residues so even if you wash the produce you run a green beansrisk of absorbing them into your body. Pesticides is the only poison know to be harmful to both humans, animals and the planet that we release onto your planet and food. Much scientific research shows that small doses of pesticides and other chemicals can have a negative effect on people, especially during vulnerable periods of fetal development and childhood.

Thanks to the Food Quality Protection Act of 1996, many harmful chemicals have been banned from the produce industry; however, pesticides are still being used on much of the fresh produce that we see in stores. Luckily, the Environmental Working Group (EWG) has done their research and has come up with two very important lists called the “Clean 15” and the “Dirty Dozen” that forewarn consumers about the amount of pesticides in their food. Consider these lists before buying your produce from a mainstream market.

The Clean 15

This list includes 15 fruits and vegetables that recorded the least amount of pesticide residue. The pesticide levels were so low or not present may suggest that buying this produce as organic may not always be necessary.

 As of 2014, the EWG Clean 15 list includes

avocados, pineapple, cabbage, sweet corn, sweet peas (frozen), asparagus, mangoes, onions, papayas, eggplant, kiwi, grapefruit, cauliflower, cantaloupe and sweet potatoes.

 The Dirty Dozenapples

According to the EWG, 65% of produce tested positively for residue from pesticides. The following is the list of produce that tested for the highest concentrations of pesticides.

As of 2014, the EWG Dirty Dozen includes

apples, strawberries, celery, spinach, grapes, peaches, imported nectarines, cherry tomatoes, sweet bell peppers, potatoes, cucumbers and snap peas.

 Given this information, it is up to you to make the best choices possible for you and your family!


Amanda Wilkes is a Southern California native and an avid advocate for the health, happiness, and the well being of the world we live in! She loves teaching, traveling, writing, cooking, and photography. Amanda cannot get enough of being out doors, playing in the sunshine and doing yoga on the beach at sunset. One of her greatest joys is finding a new Farmer's Market or sustainable eatery! She lives in Laguna Niguel, CA with her beloved boyfriend and fur baby. As a teacher, she hopes to empower the youth of today with the ways of tomorrow's future!

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