The EWG released their updated guide to pesticides in produce. The Clean 15 are the top 15 fruits and vegetables the EWG states are the least likely to test positive for pesticide residues. The Dirty Dozen Plus are the most contaminated conventional fruits and vegetables – those to be avoided.
Why Should I Care?
- The majority of pesticide exposure comes from the food you eat. At least 67% of the conventional produce samples tested had at least one pesticide.
- Just because a pesticide has been banned from use doesn’t mean its not on the produce we can pick up in the store. The EWG reports that produce tested several years ago had pesticides on them that had been banned in the 1970s!
- 67% of food samples have detectable pesticide residues after washing or peeling.
- Green beans canned for baby food tested positive for five pesticides and pears canned for baby food tested positive for 11 pesticides.
- The Journal of the American Academy of Pediatrics reports that:
Among the findings associated with increased pesticide levels are poorer mental development and increased scores on measures assessing pervasive developmental disorder, inattention, and attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder. There may also be an association between parental pesticide use and adverse birth outcomes including physical birth defects, low birth weight, and fetal death, although the data are less robust than for cancer and neurodevelopmental effects.
How should I use this Guide?
Don’t stop eating fruits and vegetables, use the guide to reduce your exposure to pesticides:
- Choose organic produce when you can afford it.
Studies led by Chensheng (Alex) Lu of Emory University found that elementary school-age children’s body burdens of organophosphate pesticides, including chlorpyrifos and malathion, peaked during the summer, when they ate the most fresh produce. But just five days after switching to an all-organic diet, their bodies were essentially pesticide-free.
- If you can’t afford organic produce, choose conventional for the Clean 15 and organic for the Dirty Dozen Plus.
- Always wash your fruit before eating. These tests were done after washing and peeling so if you don’t do that, you are potentially ingesting even more pesticide residue.
Want to have the list handy while shopping? Download the FREE Dirty Dozen app for iPhone.