Whether or not you usually shop for organic produce, it’s worth keeping an eye on the Dirty Dozen, the longstanding list from the Environmental Working Group (EWG) that calls out the worst offenders when it comes to pesticide residues. Some of the chemicals on fruits and veggies are harmless, but others have been linked to cancer, developmental delays in children, and more. Recently updated, the list is built on big data and testing from the federal government—and can serve as a go-to shopping guide if you have room in your budget to spend a little more on groceries.
The major upset this year: Strawberries rose to the top as the “dirtiest” fruit, beating out apples, which led for 5 years running. Of the conventional strawberries tested, 98 percent had detectable pesticide residues, 40 percent had residues from 10 or more pesticides, and some had residues from up to 17 different pesticides. Strawberries tend to be a kid favorite, which could make the numbers particularly upsetting for parents.
Other thin-skinned fruit, like apples, peaches, and nectarines, also remain on the list year over year. Check out the list to see other fruits and veggies worth watching out for.
The Dirty Dozen:
- Bell peppers
- Cherry tomatoes
On a more positive note, the EWG also offers a list that can help you save a few pennies! The Clean 15 represents the fruits and veggies lowest in contamination, making them the safest choices to buy conventional. Superfood avocados are remarkably clean—less than 1 percent of samples showed any detectable pesticides. So you can sip your green smoothie with a smile.
The Clean 15:
- Sweet peas
Keep in mind that the Dirty Dozen and Clean 15 aren’t meant to discourage anyone from eating produce. Nutritious fruits and vegetables should play a starring role in every healthy diet. To limit your exposure to pesticides, consider these lists the next time you’re at the store, shop organic when you can, and be sure to give all your fruits and veggies a good rinse before taking a bite.
This information is for educational purposes only and is not intended as a substitute for medical diagnosis or treatment. You should not use this information to diagnose or treat a health problem or condition. Always check with your doctor before changing your diet, altering your sleep habits, taking supplements, or starting a new fitness routine.