Eating conventionally-grown produce is far better than not eating fruits and vegetables at all because the health benefits of a diet rich in fruits and vegetables outweigh the risks of pesticide exposure. However even if your budget prevents you from buying 100% organic, you can lower your pesticide intake by avoiding the 12 most contaminated fruits and vegetables (the “Dirty Dozen™”) if conventionally grown. This year’s Dirty Dozen: Apples, Celery, Cherry Tomatoes, Cucumbers, Grapes, Hot Peppers, Nectarines-imported, Peaches, Potatoes, Spinach, Strawberries, and Sweet Bell Peppers. Those are the ones you should always buy organic if you can.
For the second year, The Environmental Working Group has expanded the Dirty Dozen with a “Plus” category to highlight two crops – domestically- grown summer squash and leafy greens, specifically kale and collards. These crops did not meet traditional Dirty Dozen criteria but were commonly contaminated with pesticides exceptionally toxic to the nervous system. These you should also buy organic.
Now for the “Clean Fifteen:” These conventionally- grown crops may not be squeaky clean, but they are the least contaminated: Asparagus, Avocados, Cabbage, Cantaloupe, Sweet Corn, Eggplant, Grapefruit, Kiwi, Mangos, Mushrooms, Onions, Papayas, Pineapples, Sweet Peas, Sweet Potatoes. Learn more at www.ewg.org.