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Dirty Dozen Produce List

We all know that eating organically can, and most of the time does, cost more than eating conventionally grown fruits, vegetables, and dairy. One way to combat that additional cost is to focus your efforts mostly on buying organically only with the most heavily pesticide ridden plants. The Environmental Working Group (EWG) recently released and updated version of the "dirty dozen" - the most pesticide concentrated plants. They dirty dozen reflects the measurable amounts of pesticide residue on the parts of the plant that is normally consumed (ie it is measured after normal washing and peeling of plants). According to the EWG, a consumer can reduce their overall pesticide exposure by up to 80% simply by avoiding the most contaminated fruits and veggies (or eating them only in the organic version) and eating mostly the cleanest.

Here is the list that they came up with for the "dirtiest" conventionally grown fruits and vegetables:
1) Celery
2) Peaches
3) Strawberries
4) Apples
5) Blueberries
6) Nectarines
7) Bell Peppers
8) Spinach
9) Kale
10) Cherries
11) Potatoes
12) Imported Grapes

And the "cleanest" fruits and veggies (the ones with the smallest amounts of measurable pesticide residue):
1) Onions
2) Avocado
3) Sweet Corn
4) Pineapple
5) Mangos
6) Sweet Peas
7) Asparagus
8) Kiwi
9) Cabbage
11) Cantaloupe
12) Watermelon
13) Grapefruit
14) Sweet Potato
15) Honeydew Melon

As you can see, a reoccurring theme in the cleanest veggies are ones that have a thick, hard skin that in inedible (think watermelon). Thus, the chemicals are not as present on the parts of the fruit that you are eating, because the skin protects the insides. In contrast, many of the "dirtiest" plants are ones that have a thin, edible skin like berries and grapes. Since they lack the protection of the thicker skin, and you are eating the whole fruit, they are more likely to have higher pesticide levels.

So the moral of the story is that if you are tight on budget (and who isn't these days?), but you are trying to eat in the healthiest and cleanest way possible, your dollar would be best served going towards a dirtier plant when you are choosing to buy organically, and you can save the money and buy conventionally when you are buying the "cleaner" plants.

For more information on the dirty dozen and clean 15, check out Food News Shoppers Guide

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