With the release of the new EWG Dirty Dozen and Clean 15 list, you can make informed choices on what produce to always buy organic, and which you can skip.
The Environmental Working Group (EWG) has just released their annual guide to the produce containing the most pesticides, aka the Dirty Dozen List. It’s always disappointing to learn how our seemingly nutritious fruits and vegetables can be covered in toxins.
EWG reported that nearly 70 percent of conventional produce
contained pesticide residue.
70 percent! That’s a horrible statistic that we need to change.
Sadly there’s a new vegetable on the list this year, and it’s one that I regularly eat - kale!
According to the EWG, “more than 92 percent of conventionally grown kale samples had at least two or more pesticide residues. Some samples contained residues from as many as 18 different pesticides.” That’s definitely 18 more pesticides than I want on any of my kale dishes.
Kale hasn’t been including in testing since 2009 (when it was also on the Dirty Dozen list) so this may not necessarily be a new development but it’s definitely one to remember when it comes time to buy kale.
One of the pesticides discovered on kale was outlawed in the EU 10 years ago. Yeah, 10 years ago the European Union said, don’t put that crap on our food. Here in the US, we’re allowing it all in our food system.
Spinach is still on the Dirty Dozen list, coming in at number two again. The EWG reported that, “spinach has the most pesticide residues by weight. Spinach also consistently tests positive for some particularly nasty pesticides – like permethrin, a neurotoxic bug killer banned in Europe, and DDT, a toxic pesticide banned in the U.S.”
One spinach sample was found to have up to 18 different pesticides! So yeah, you want to always buy organic spinach when making any of my spinach recipes.
It was also discovered that 99% of strawberries have pesticide residues. Yup, that’s pretty much all of them. When looking at one single strawberry, up to 22 different pesticides were present. A strawberry just doesn't seem big enough to carry 22 pesticides, but there they are.
That all makes me sad but armed with the Dirty Dozen list, you can be educated on what produce to always buy organic. If you see one of your go-to fruits or vegetables on the Dirty Dozen list, you may want to consider saving up to purchase organic.
Other Key Findings From EWG’s 2019 Shopper's Guide to Pesticides in Produce
More than 90 percent of samples of strawberries, apples, cherries, spinach, nectarines and kale tested positive for residues of two or more pesticides.
Avocados and sweet corn were the cleanest. Less than 1 percent of samples showed any detectable pesticides.
More than 70 percent of fruit and vegetable samples on the Clean Fifteen list had no pesticide residues.
EWG Dirty Dozen List 2019
This is the annual Environmental Working Group's Dirty Dozen list. Items are listed in order with the most pesticides first.
The EWG isn’t all gloom and doom. They also release a Clean 15 list. This is the list that features produce at the other end of the spectrum from the Dirty Dozen. These are the items with the lowest levels of pesticide residues. You don’t have to be as concerned to buy organic for these items.
I'm always happy to see avocado at the top of the Clean 15 list. They're expensive enough, so I usually buy conventional avocados. The EWG found that less than one percent of avocados had any pesticides so they're number one on the Clean 15. Phew, my beloved avo is safe,
EWG Clean 15 List
Sweet peas (frozen)
Other Ways to Remove Pesticides from Produce
Another good way to cut down on pesticides in your produce is by making sure to thoroughly clean them before eating. I will warn though that simply doing this will not remove all of the toxins since some are inside the produce, so it's still important to buy organic whenever possible, or at least when buying items off the dirty dozen list.
You can see my video above on how I clean my produce and check out this post too for all of the details.
It's good to be educated on our food system and where hidden toxins may lurk. While it may seem difficult, not to mention expensive, to buy all organic, with the EWG's Dirty Dozen list, you can focus on the 12 produce items you should always buy organic. Then you can let yourself off the organic hook when you purchase fruits and vegetables from the Clean 15 List. No matter what you buy, it's always a good idea to clean your produce before consuming.
If you're looking for more ways to keep your home toxin free, check out my post on the most eco-friendly kitchen products. I also can help you put a Clean Eating pantry together with my recommended staples.