The dirty dozen and clean fifteen list changed the way I eat and buy produce, ever since I learned of it. Published by the Environmental Working Group (EWG) each year, it lists the 12 worst and cleanest 15 produce items based on pesticides, insecticides and toxins. I’ve included the lists for 2012 below, but more information can be found here: http://www.ewg.org/foodnews/
Some highlights from the lists:
- The most contaminated fruits, in alphabetical order, are apples, domestic blueberries, grapes, imported nectarines, peaches and strawberries
- The most contaminated vegetables are bell peppers, celery, cucumbers, lettuce, potatoes and spinach
- Every sample of imported nectarines tested positive for pesticides, followed by apples (98 percent) and imported plums (96 percent)
- As a category, grapes have more types of pesticides than any other produce, with 64 different pesticides
- Bell peppers had 88 different pesticide residues, followed by cucumbers (81) and lettuce (78)
I always try to buy organic produce from the dirty dozen list, and even organic on some of the “clean” items because I feel more comfortable eating them. It isn’t always possible, but I sure try, which I think counts for something. Apples happen to be one of my favorite fruits, and the best organic apples I’ve found are at Trader Joe’s-they have organic Gala apples that are to die for! I’ve watched the evolution of organic options at the military commissaries change dramatically over the last several years, which is encouraging, too.
For me, it’s about caring what I put in my body, and how I choose to fuel it, and I prefer not to eat chemicals.