We are all aware of the benefits of eating healthy foods. Fruits and vegetables contain many health supporting nutrients including vitamins, minerals, enzymes, fiber, etc., so including more fresh fruits and vegetables in our diet can only be a good thing, right? Not when modern conventional farming uses many toxic chemicals on produce and buying only organic is too hard on the pocketbook. That’s where the dirty dozen and the clean 15 come in to help.
We are sharing with you the Environmental Working Group’s (EWG) 2016 dirty dozen and clean 15 lists of the cleanest and dirtiest produce in terms of pesticide use. The EWG puts out this shopper’s guide to pesticides in produce every year. Its analysis is based on results of more than 35,000 samples tested by the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the Food and Drug Administration. With this guide we can make educated choices on the healthiest yet most cost effective produce. This makes it easier to include as many healthy fruits and veggies possible in our diets.
The 2016 dirty dozen list for conventionally grown produce:
- Sweet bell peppers
- Cherry Tomatoes
The Dirty Dozen lists the fruits and vegetables that have been contaminated by multiple pesticides and which have high concentrations of pesticides. Strawberries topped the list this year beating out apples which held that top spot for the last five years. More than 98% of strawberries, peaches, nectarines and apples tested positive for at least one pesticide residue. It’s important to note that even after being washed or sometimes even peeled, much of the residue levels still remained in the produce. The EWG also found that non-organic hot peppers and kale contained trace levels of particularly toxic pesticides. These didn’t make the list for containing the most pesticides but were important to mention due to the particularly dangerous toxins found in them.
These fruits and vegetables are a very beneficial part of our diets, however! Buy these organic whenever possible from your grocery store or local farmer’s market or grow your own!
The fact is that people, who eat organic, eat fewer pesticides. But organic produce is not readily available in some stores and when it is, it is going to cost more. The good news is there is a Clean 15 list of conventionally grown produce that tested low for pesticide residue. These are considered safer options for purchasing when organic items are not available or too expensive.
The 2016 clean 15 list for conventionally grown produce:
- Sweet Corn
- Sweet Peas
- Honeydew Melon
Avocados topped the clean list for this year with less than 1% of samples showing any detectable pesticides. No single fruit sample from the clean 15 tested positive for more than 4 types of pesticides and very few (5.5%) for more than one. It is recommended that folks opt for organic sweet corn and papayas, though, because they are common GMO crops.
Pesticides can over-tax the body causing trouble with gut health and poor immunity. Studies have found that children exposed to high levels of pesticides were at greater risk of impaired intelligence and ADHD. Other conditions linked to pesticide exposure are birth defects, Parkinson’s disease, leaky gut syndrome and certain types of cancer.
These lists should educate and empower you! Eating a variety of fruits and veggies, and lots of them, is very important. Now we have the knowledge to make the best choices for our families.