Produce Dirty Dozen

Posted April 29th, 2014 by kerri and filed in small house living
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The Environmental Working Group (EWG) released its 2014 list of The Dirty Dozen today.

What does this have to do with Living Large? For us, liv­ing as sus­tain­able as pos­si­ble goes hand in hand with our lifestyle.

We buy organic when we can. Sometimes, that isn’t pos­si­ble, either due to avail­abil­ity or price. That’s when I refer to my Dirty Dozen list to see if we want the pro­duce bad enough to risk the extra pes­ti­cide intake.

For exam­ple, I will never buy a head of let­tuce or apples that are not organic, but I buy avo­ca­does that are con­ven­tion­ally grown, because they are part of the Clean 15.

The EPA has not com­plied in full with the Congressional man­date, for more than a decade EWG has stepped in to fill the void by pub­lish­ing its Shopper’s Guide to Pesticides in ProduceEWG aims to help peo­ple eat healthy and reduce their expo­sure to pes­ti­cides in produce.”

EWG’s Shopper’s Guide helps peo­ple find con­ven­tional fruits and veg­eta­bles with low con­cen­tra­tions of pes­ti­cide residues,” said Sonya Lunder, EWG’s senior ana­lyst and prin­ci­ple author of the report.  “If a par­tic­u­lar item is likely to be high in pes­ti­cides, peo­ple can go for organic.”

The guide ranks 48 pop­u­lar fruits and veg­eta­bles based on an analy­sis of 32,000 sam­ples tested by U.S. Department of Agriculture and the fed­eral Food and Drug Administration.

In the lat­est report, 65 per­cent of the sam­ples ana­lyzed tested pos­i­tive for pes­ti­cide residues.

For the fourth year in a row, apples topped the list of pro­duce with the most pes­ti­cides. “Conventionally-grown apples have high con­cen­tra­tions of pes­ti­cides, pri­mar­ily because of chem­i­cals applied to the crop after har­vest to pre­serve their appear­ance dur­ing long months of cold stor­age. EWG ana­lysts reported last week that dipheny­lamine, or DPA for short, an antiox­i­dant that pre­vents apple skin from dis­col­or­ing dur­ing stor­age, was detected on more than 80 per­cent of raw apples in 2010, the most recent year they were tested. In 2012, DPA was banned for use on fruit grown in the European Union because of con­cerns it could form cancer-causing nitrosamines.”

Key find­ings:

  • · The aver­age potato had more pes­ti­cides by weight than any other food.
  • · A sin­gle grape tested pos­i­tive for 15 pes­ti­cides. Single sam­ples of cel­ery, cherry toma­toes, imported snap peas and straw­ber­ries tested pos­i­tive for 13 dif­fer­ent pes­ti­cides apiece.
  • · Some 89 per­cent of pineap­ples, 82 per­cent of kiwi, 80 per­cent of papayas, 88 per­cent of mango and 61 per­cent of can­taloupe had no residues.


The 2014 Dirty Dozen:

  • Apples
  • Strawberries
  • Grapes
  • Celery
  • Peaches
  • Spinach
  • Sweet bell peppers
  • Imported nec­tarines
  • Cucumbers
  • Cherry toma­toes
  • Potatoes
  • Imported snap peas

In addi­tion, leafy greens, such as col­lard greens and kale and hot pep­pers are typ­i­cally con­t­a­m­i­nated with pesticides.

The Clean 15 (These were found to have no more than 4 resid­ual pesticides):

  • Avocadoes
  • Corn (this takes into account pes­ti­cide only, not if they are GMO. If you want GMO free, you still need to buy organic.
  • Pineapples
  • Cabbage
  • Frozen sweet peas
  • Onions
  • Asparagus
  • Mangos
  • Papaya
  • Kiwi
  • Eggplant
  • Grapefruit
  • Cantaloupe
  • Cauliflower
  • Sweet Potatoes

Do you pay atten­tion to the Dirty Dozen/Clean 15 Lists when shopping?



16 Responses to “Produce Dirty Dozen”

  1. Chemical pest con­trol con­sists of using even more harm­ful syn­thetic pes­ti­cides. Chemical pest con­trol is not eco-friendly and is never con­sid­ered as an organic tech­nique of control.

    Mrs. Vaquera

  2. Thanks for this, Kerri. I often dither about organic choices — and this post is quite helpful.

    • Kerri says:

      You're very wel­come, Ruth. We can't keep all of the chem­i­cals out, but we can just do the best we can.

  3. This is such a valu­able post. But it's all so sad that this is what's become of our pro­duce: those that are tasty and safe and those that are tasty and con­t­a­m­i­nated. I just tweeted about it. Thanks.

  4. Kerry Dexter says:

    thanks for post­ing this infor­ma­tion, Kerri.
    I am glad to see that cau­li­flower is on the clean list — espe­cially as I often use it place of pota­toes, which, sad to see, are not.

  5. Sheryl says:

    Thanks for post­ing this, Kerri. It's always a good reminder to do the best we can and try to avoid the most dan­ger­ous things in our diet.

  6. rhonda says:

    So if you were to peel the apples or pota­toes would they make the clean list?

    • Kerri says:

      Hi, Rhonda. Good ques­tion. According to the EWG, no. Here's from their web­site: "The data used to cre­ate the Shopper’s Guide™ are from pro­duce tested as it is typ­i­cally eaten. This means washed and, when applic­a­ble, peeled. For exam­ple, bananas are peeled before test­ing, and blue­ber­ries and peaches are washed. Because all pro­duce has been thor­oughly cleaned before analy­sis, wash­ing a fruit or veg­etable would not change its rank­ing in the EWG’s Shopper’s Guide™. Remember, if you don’t wash con­ven­tional pro­duce, the risk of ingest­ing pes­ti­cides is even greater than reflected by USDA test data." http://​www​.ewg​.org/​f​o​o​d​n​e​w​s​/​f​aq.php

      • Scott says:

        Whatever is in/on the soil as things grow; will also be in/on what­ever is grow­ing. Washing/rinsing only helps the sur­face area, not the flesh and makeup of the plant.

  7. Roxanne says:

    I do the best I can too with my bud­get an options. It helps in the sum­mer when I can crow things like let­tuce / spinach, etc. at home … so I know pes­ti­cides weren't used.

  8. Brette says:

    Yes, when I can. But I would rather fill my cart with fresh veg­gies and fruit that might come from the list than buy none if that is the only choice I have. My gro­cery store does not always carry these items as organic, so I do the best I can.

    • Kerri says:

      We have the same prob­lem with avail­abil­ity, Brette. If there is a food I feel strongly about, like let­tuce or pota­toes, I will try to change the menu and make some­thing that I can get. We just have to do the best we can. I think the first step is know­ing what the ones are that should be bought organic.