Check Out the “Dirty Dozen” List of Foods with the Most Pesticides

If you are reading this blog, you are already taking steps toward a healthy lifestyle, and we applaud you for it! It’s not always easy. It’s hard to pick the best exercise routine, the best lifestyle habits and the best diet. Sometimes, even when you are trying your very hardest, information can come out that is surprising.

For instance, when we’re trying to be healthy, most of us gravitate toward eating more fruits and veggies. It’s an obviously healthy choice. But, some are more healthy than others. And, while you might know their nutritional benefits, it goes beyond that. The Environmental Working Group (EWG) has put out the Dirty Dozen list for 2021. The list is the top 12 foods with the most pesticides.

For the study, the fruits and veggies are first washed and/or peeled the way you would prepare them in your kitchen before eating them at home. This isn’t about how they are when they are sold to you. This is about how they are when you eat them. The pesticides are in the flesh of the fruits and vegetables you’re eating, not on the surface. They found that almost 70 percent of fresh, non-organic produce contains potentially harmful pesticides.

The Dirty Dozen for this year are:

  1. Strawberries
  2. Spinach
  3. Kale, collard and mustard greens
  4. Nectarines
  5. Apples
  6. Grapes
  7. Cherries
  8. Peaches
  9. Pears
  10. Bell and hot peppers
  11. Celery
  12. Tomatoes

There are a lot of healthy things on that list. But it’s negated by the pesticides. More than 90 percent of the strawberries, leafy greens, nectarines, apples and cherries had at least two types of pesticides on them. Pesticides have been linked to many problems, including cancer, weight and blood sugar concerns.

While organic produce can be expensive, it can also be worth the health investment. It’s less expensive to buy when it is in season. We always like eating seasonal produce as it helps keep our diet varied. You can also purchase organic produce when it is on sale and freeze it or can it for later. That way, you can eat organic produce without breaking the bank.

In addition to publishing the Dirty Dozen, EWG also announced the Clean 15. It’s the list of non-organic fruits and veggies that had the lowest amounts of pesticides. That list is:

  1. Avocados
  2. Sweet corn
  3. Pineapple
  4. Onions
  5. Papaya
  6. Sweet peas (frozen)
  7. Eggplant
  8. Asparagus
  9. Broccoli
  10. Cabbage
  11. Kiwi
  12. Cauliflower
  13. Mushrooms
  14. Honeydew melon
  15. Cantaloupes

Unlike the Dirty Dozen, almost 70 percent of the samples in this group were completely free of pesticide traces. If you don’t want to switch to organic fruits and vegetables, these are your best choices!

A diet that’s high in fruits and vegetables is a healthy diet, so that’s the most important thing,” said EWG’s toxicologist Thomas Galligan. “Our general guidance is to recommend that consumers choose organic whenever possible, especially for the items on the Dirty Dozen list. We do recognize that some people can’t afford or don’t have access to organic food, and that’s why we create our Clean Fifteen list as well so they can choose nonorganic foods with the least amount of pesticides.”

Banner image: Engin Akyurt via Unsplash
March 19, 2021
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