The Dirty Dozen: Choosing Produce With Less Pesticide

picture-4As organic food begins to occupy more and more space in grocery stores, you may have found yourself standing in the produce aisle wondering whether organic produce is worth the price. And if you can’t get organic, or it’s not in your budget, how do you make produce choices that limit your pesticide exposure?

In short, when does organic matter the most?

The Environmental Working Group decided to answer that question by studying the pesticides present on 47 different fruits and vegetables. From that, they released what they called the “dirty dozen” – 12 foods that you should avoid or buy organic whenever possible.

The EWG estimates that you can lower your pesticide exposure by up to 80% by focusing on the low-pesticide foods and/or eating the “dirty dozen” in organic form.

The Dirty Dozen: The 12 Most Contaminated

  • Peaches
  • Apples
  • Sweet Bell Peppers
  • Celery
  • Nectarines
  • Strawberries
  • Cherries
  • Kale
  • Lettuce
  • Grapes (imported)
  • Carrots
  • Pears

The Clean 15: The 15 Least Contaminated

  • Onion
  • Avocado
  • Sweet corn
  • Pineapple
  • Mango
  • Asparagus
  • Sweet Peas
  • Kiwi
  • Cabbage
  • Eggplant
  • Papaya
  • Watermelon
  • Broccoli
  • Tomato
  • Sweet Potato

You can read the full list of all 47, ranked from highest to lowest, or better yet, there’s a free wallet card to help you remember next time you’re shopping, and even an iPhone app!


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3 replies
  1. Krista Voigt
    Krista Voigt says:

    Hi Tara,

    My children and I sometimes have reactions to fruits like mango, kiwi, papaya, and we’re trying to buy foods that are grown locally.

    I am so disappointed that apples are near the top of the dirty-dozen list. My kids eat them every day – along with raw fresh carrots and grapes!

    I rarely see organic grapes at the grocery store.

    Any suggestions on where to find a better selection of organic? I do know Top of The Hill (?) farm near Thornbury sells organic apples from their farm but they aren’t open at this time of year.

    Thank you

  2. Tara Gignac, ND
    Tara Gignac, ND says:

    Hi Krista,

    In season, you can try the 100 Mile Store in Creemore or Meaford. Off season, Loblaws in Collingwood usually has the PC Organics brand – it’s not local, but it is organic.

    Hope that helps!


Trackbacks & Pingbacks

  1. […] 2, 2011 Last year we posted about the Dirty Dozen of produce, and how to choose fresh foods with fewer pesticides. If you’re wondering about food […]

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