Strawberries, spinach and kale/collard greens/mustard greens topped EWG’s 2021 Shopper’s Guide to Pesticides in Produce list of the dirtiest, or most pesticide-contaminated, fruits and vegetables. Half of this list are repeat offenders, appearing on many prior years lists. This is valuable for you to know because pesticides have been linked to a number of health problems, including cancer and lower IQ in children, not to mention the risks posed to those who harvest them. How to use these two lists? If trying to decide whether to buy conventional or organic, I encourage you to buy organic versions of the items on the Dirty Dozen list, to reduce your intake of pesticides. The Clean 15 is a list of items you can buy as conventional with minimal risk. Check the current Dirty Dozen list for your favorite foods: if your frequently purchased items are on the list, you’ll want to see if you can make the switch to organic versions to protect your health.
The Clean 15 is a list of conventionally grown foods that do not carry as high a pesticide burden. So if you’re trying to determine where to get the most bang out of your organic budget, then buy organic foods from the Dirty Dozen list and conventionally grown foods from the Clean 15 list.
You can limit your exposure to toxins and pesticides by using this as a guide when purchasing fruits and veggies. Sign up with Environmental Working Group (EWG.org) to stay current because the list changes from year to year.
- Kale/collard greens/mustard greens
- Pears (new for 2021)
- Sweet bell peppers and hot peppers
- Tomatoes and cherry tomatoes
Other foods that are pesticide-contaminated, but further down the list (i.e., incrementally less toxic) include potatoes, lettuce, blueberries, plums, cucumbers, tangerines, raspberries, grapefruit, snap peas, summer and winter squashes, carrots and bananas. The 2021 list includes 46 fruits and veggies that are considered harmful, so do check out the entire list.
- Sweet Corn
- Sweet Peas (frozen)
- Honey Dew Melon