A Beginning-What are the “Dirty Dozen” & “Clean Fifteen”?

One of the ways we try to save money is by utilizing the dirty dozen, clean fifteen shopper’s guides.  What in the world are those you may ask?  Well out of 49 fruits and vegetables that have been tested, they were rated based upon the pesticide residue and retention.  The termed “Dirty Dozen” were the twelve produce items with the highest amounts of pesticide residue.  The “Clean Fifteen” were the produce that ranked the lowest in pesticides.

Let me say that if the option is to have conventional produce or none at all, the benefits of being able to provide fruits and vegetables for your family even if conventional far out way the risks.  Eating conventionally grown fruits and vegetables are not my number one choice, but if it were the only option, our bodies need the nutrients found in fruits and vegetables.

With that said, I really try to focus on always purchasing the “Dirty Dozen” organically.  That would be my suggestion to anyone just starting out.  If it seems so overwhelming at first, or if you are like myself and on a tight budget focus on what has the biggest impact, the “Dirty Dozen.”   Here is a downloadable pocket guide from Earthbound Farms with a list of the “Dirty Dozen.”

Here is a list of what ranks the highest in the form of pesticide residue:

  1. Apples
  2. Celery
  3. Strawberries
  4. Peaches
  5. Spinach
  6. Imported Nectarines
  7. Imported Grapes
  8. Sweet Bell Peppers
  9. Potatoes
  10. Domestic Blueberries
  11. Lettuce
  12. Kale/Collard Greens

Here are some of the stats on the “Dirty Dozen”

Notable findings on fruits:

  • Every sample of imported nectarines tested positive for pesticides, followed by apples (97.8 percent) and imported plums (97.2 percent).
  • 92 percent of apples contained 2 or more pesticide residues‚ followed by imported nectarines (90.8 percent) and peaches (85.6 percent).
  • Imported grapes had 14 pesticides detected on a single sample. Strawberries, domestic grapes both had 13 different pesticides detected on a single sample.
  • As a category. peaches have been treated with more pesticides than any other produce, registering combinations of up to 57 different chemicals. Apples were next, with 56 pesticides and raspberries with 51.

Here are the findings on vegetables most likely to retain pesticide contamination:

  • Some 96 percent all celery samples tested positive for pesticides, followed by cilantro (92.9 percent) and potatoes (91.4 percent).
  • Nearly 90 percent of celery samples contained multiple pesticides, followed by cilantro (70.1 percent) and sweet bell peppers (69.4 percent).
  • A single celery sample was contaminated with 13 different chemicals, followed by a single sample of sweet bell peppers (11), and greens (10).

Hot peppers had been treated with as many as 97 pesticides, followed by cucumbers (68) and greens (66).

To help save some money, I don’t always purchase the “Clean Fifteen” organically.  Here list of the “Clean Fifteen” which ranked the lowest in pesticide residue:

  1. Onions
  2. Sweet Corn (Although this is listed as low residue, it is a GMO crop so I will not purchase corn unless it is organic.  Go here to read more about what are GMOs.)
  3. Pineapples
  4. Avocados
  5. Asparagus
  6. Sweet Peas
  7. Mangoes (Also high on the list of GMOs)
  8. Eggplant
  9. Domestic Cantaloupe
  10. Kiwi
  11. Cabbage
  12. Watermelon
  13. Sweet Potatoes
  14. Grapefruit
  15. Mushrooms

To see the entire list and where your favorite fruits and veggies are placed, then check out the full list at the Environment Working Group’s Website: EWG’s Shopper’s Guide to Pesticides | Environmental Working Group | EWG.org

As I stated above, this decision is up to each family.  I whole-heartedly believe that being able to provide even conventional produce is better than no produce.  If your family is looking to try to start purchasing organic foods, then the “Dirty Dozen” would rank high on my list to start with.  Please keep in mind that being a GMO crop has nothing to do with pesticide exposure and is an entirely different topic!  If you wish to find out a little bit about GMO’s, then read my article here.

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