Dirty Dozen and the Clean Fifteen

Eating organic means avoiding the pesticide residue left on foods, and it may even mean more nutritious varietals, though research into that subject has yielded mixed results. While there are few if any proven health impacts from consuming trace quantities of pesticides on foods, a growing number of people take the precaution of avoiding exposure just in case.
But organic food can cost more, meaning  shelling out the extra cash for organic produce on every shopping trip. That's what makes the Environmental Working Group's annual list of the dirty dozen foods so useful. The group analyzes Department of Agriculture data about pesticide residue and ranks foods based on how much or little pesticide residue they have. The group has estimated that individuals can reduce their exposure by 80% if they switch to organic when buying these 12 foods.

Dirty Dozen: 12 Foods to Eat Organic

The fruits and vegetables on “The Dirty Dozen” list, when conventionally grown, tested positive for at least 47 different chemicals, with some testing positive for as many as 67. For produce on the “dirty” list, you should definitely go organic — unless you relish the idea of consuming a chemical cocktail.   
  • celery

  • peaches

  • strawberries

  • apples

  • domestic blueberries

  • nectarines

  • sweet bell peppers

  • spinach, kale and collard greens

  • cherries

  • potatoes

  • imported grapes

  • lettuce


Clean 15: Fifteen Foods that bore little or No Trace of Pesticides and are okay to eat in Non-Organic Form

  • onions

  • mango

  • avocados

  • sweet corn

  • pineapples

  • sweet peas

  • asparagus

  • kiwi fruit

  • cabbage

  • eggplant

  • cantaloupe

  • watermelon

  • grapefruit

  • sweet potatoes

  • sweet onions

Why are some types of produce more prone to sucking up pesticides than others? Richard Wiles, senior vice president of policy for the Environmental Working Group says, “If you eat something like a pineapple or sweet corn, they have a protection defense because of the outer layer of skin. Not the same for strawberries and berries.”
The President’s Cancer Panel recommends washing conventionally grown produce to remove residues. Wiles adds, “You should do what you can do, but the idea you are going to wash pesticides off is a fantasy. But you should still wash it because you will reduce pesticide exposure.”
Remember, the lists of dirty and clean produce were compiled after the USDA washed the produce using high-power pressure water systems that many of us could only dream of having in our kitchens.

Taken from: Need to Know on PBS


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