Every year the people at Environmental Working Group (EWG) – an organization dedicated to environmental health research and advocacy – conduct a study on conventionally-grown fruits and vegetables to assess their level of pesticide residues that can potentially be harmful to our health. The findings are shared with consumers in two easy to use lists: Dirty Dozen, and Clean Fifteen. EWG’s aim is to bring awareness to possible health hazards related to consuming pesticide laden foods so that you can make an informed decision when shopping for your produce. While many regulating bodies in the food industry maintain that pesticides pose no threat to the human population, it is hard to ignore the numerous research findings that link its toxic effects to cancer, birth defects, abnormal brain and nervous system functions, and genetic alterations, among other health problems.
So how can you use the Dirty Dozen and Clean Fifteen resources to help you eat healthier and reduce your pesticide consumption?
The Dirty Dozen list identifies the top twelve foods that tested positive to containing multiple types of pesticides and showed high concentration levels relative to other produce items. Apples top the list for the fourth year, mainly due to the number of chemicals used for preservation during the long months of cold storage. A single strawberry was found to have 13 different pesticides on it, and a single grape tested positive to 15 pesticides. It’s a good idea to opt for the organically grown versions when it comes to items found on this list. Use this tool to help you prioritize your organic purchases without breaking the bank, while lowering your exposure to toxic chemicals.
The Clean Fifteen list showcases the fruits and vegetables that are least likely to be contaminated with pesticides. Topping the list are avocados, with only 1 percent of the samples showing any detectable traces of pesticides. Over 80 percent of pineapples, mangos, kiwis, and papayas were found to be free of any pesticide contamination. You can feel safe enjoying these conventionally grown, and be assured that they won’t contribute to your toxic load.
Check out the full 2014 Dirty Dozen and Clean Fifteen lists below. Then, head over the EWG website to get your own copy and read the full report of their 2014 Shopper’s Guide to Pesticides in Produce. Want the lists by your side when grocery shopping? Just download the Shopper’s Guide to Pesticides app onto your smartphone.