Which Fruits and Vegetables Are on the New Dirty Dozen List?


By: , SparkPeople Blogger
6/14/2011 10:00 AM   :  36 comments   :  18,077 Views

I love vegetables! From broccoli to peppers, beets to zucchini, I'll eat them all, morning, noon and night. I aim to exceed the recommended five servings a day and usually I eat double that many servings.

That said, I'm also on a budget and I try to eat local, pesticide-free, and organic produce whenever possible. I rely on a handy-dandy annual list from the Environmental Working Group (EWG) to help me stretch my food dollars and buy organic versions of the "dirtiest" fruits and vegetables.

The group recently updated their "Dirty Dozen" list, along with the companion list of the "Clean 15."

On which list will you find your favorite fruits and vegetables?

The Dirty Dozen:
  • Apples
  • Celery
  • Strawberries
  • Peaches
  • Spinach
  • Nectarines – imported
  • Grapes – imported
  • Sweet bell peppers
  • Potatoes
  • Blueberries – domestic
  • Lettuce
  • Kale
  • Also: Cilantro

The Clean 15:
  • Onions
  • Sweet corn
  • Pineapples
  • Avocado
  • Asparagus
  • Sweet peas
  • Mangoes
  • Eggplant
  • Cantaloupe – domestic
  • Kiwi
  • Cabbage
  • Watermelon
  • Sweet potatoes
  • Grapefruit
  • Mushrooms

When eating conventional foods, be certain to peel away edible skins and outer leaves (such as those on lettuce) as pesticides are often concentrated there. Remember to wash all produce (conventional and organic) thoroughly with a natural fruit and vegetable cleanser. Peeling and washing can help reduce (not eliminate) pesticide exposure, but peeling also results in the loss of valuable vitamins and nutrients (like fiber). When you have the choice between an organic item and one that’s conventionally grown, choose organic as much as possible. Find more information at the EWG's website.

For more information on eating organic foods on a budget, read this article.

I keep a copy of this list on a note in my BlackBerry, and I consult it when I go to the grocery store. You can also download EWG's Shopper's Guide to Pesticides in Produce.

Other articles you might like:
The Shelf Life of Fruits and Vegetables
How to Keep Fruits and Veggies Fresh
5 Ways to Prevent Food from Going to Waste
Eating Healthy on a Budget
25 Cheap, Healthy, and Delicious Foods

On which list are your favorite fruits and vegetables? Will you change your shopping habits based on this list? Do you buy organic?

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  • 36
    Corn to me is 1- not a vegetable, I classify it as a starch as potatoes, and 2- 99%, if not 100%, of corn grown commercially is hybrid or GMO. You can barely find a seeded watermelon anymore, even in health food stores. Not "clean" in my kitchen unless it is seeded. How can you throw out the potato but not the sweet potato, both are grown the same way, organically or not. - 5/17/2012   3:22:44 PM
  • 35
    I'm not that concerned about pesticides on fruits and veggies. The human body can handle them in small amounts, after all -- most of us aren't as fragile as sensationalistic articles and television shows would have us believe. I do wish they'd stop actually putting wax on fruits and veggies in the grocery stores, though. That DOES NOT make them look more appealing to me (also, I only buy roma or on the vine tomatoes in the grocery store, the larger tomatoes have no flavor because they're allowed to ripen after they've been picked). - 5/16/2012   6:23:52 PM
  • 34
    I love the fruits and veg. on the dirty dozen list, and I am not worried about this list. I do buy domestic as often as I can, though. - 6/22/2011   4:16:37 PM
  • 33
    Dirty vs. Clean is so pejorative.
    I like knowing which ones are higher risk of contamination, but our "labeling " is so dramatic. - 6/21/2011   9:13:47 PM
  • 32
    I agree with Aurenrose,if you're going to peel the fruit you lose alot of the nutrients. - 6/19/2011   12:01:12 AM
    I agree with the post right before mine. I think the article could have been written a little better. If you're going to classify items or make a list be sure to include a sentence or two explaining what you're trying to get across. I appreciate the information, but it would have been nice for it to make sense. - 6/18/2011   1:38:43 AM
  • 30
    I didn't think this was a very well-written article, sorry. First of all, I had to read very closely to even begin to figure out that the "dirty" in this context actually referred to foods that were recommended to be bought organic whenever possible, and not that the foods themselves were somehow intrinsically dirty! Secondly, there should have been at least a sentence or two encouraging people not to get too caught up in one aspect of the foods they are eating! This is the kind of writing that gets people anxious and worried about something that is frankly a lower priority than eating them in the first place. I frequently see something like this and reach for a nice, "clean" bag of M&Ms, since I never see anything about them being dirty! Haha!

    Organic is great if you can manage it, but fruits & veggies are still healthy if you have to buy the regular stuff. - 6/17/2011   11:54:33 AM
  • 29
    Kind of tired of general comments made by people like "Dr. Oz" who slams "dirty" fruits & veggies. Then people get their noses all out of whack when you grow one of those products and can't claim "organic".

    I have to believe that eating 5,7, 9 or more fruits & veggies every day is far better in the big picture than figuring out which "list" they are on!

    There is far more JUNK in the chemically laden processed food than you will ever find in an apple! - 6/16/2011   1:40:52 AM
  • 28
    Could we all please remember - even if we peel a fruit or veg, it is still better to eat it than not. - 6/15/2011   4:13:06 PM
  • 27
    "Dirty" refers to the amount of non-plant-based pesticides needed to successfully grow a crop that appeals to the consumers' idea of nice looking produce. The list of "dirty" produce includes those fruits/veggies that test positive for the most pesticide residues. Some residues can be washed off, some cannot as they are taken into the plant through the soil. The "clean" list includes the produce with the least residual pesticides and often includes most fruits with thick skins that are removed before eating. Some items may simply not require as many pesticides to grow a quality product. Cabbage, for example, can be grown during colder months when there are fewer garden pests.

    It's great to be informed about the food that you and your family are consuming. In my opionion, as counterintuitive as it sounds (based purely on a financial decision) , the more of an item you eat from the "dirty" list, the more of it you should purchase organic, especially for young bodies or pregnant women. I do what I can in the plentiful summer months by purchasing local organic produce. I don't beat myself up in the winter when it just isn't available or seems unaffordable. - 6/15/2011   1:20:05 PM
  • 26
    Some of my favorites are on each list. Guess I'll just keep buying and using fresh veggies, sometimes organic and sometimes not; clean them as seems appropriate; and enjoy. Life is risky ... do your best and keep moving! - 6/15/2011   12:46:14 PM
    I don't have time or the energy to get hung up on all this organic and non organic stuff. In the summer months we grow most of our own veggies and we spray with anti-bacterial dish detergent to keep pest away. I always wash our fruits and veggies. If I didn't have a weight problem I consider myself to be healthy...
    God is good. If we do our best he helps with the rest. - 6/15/2011   11:32:42 AM
  • 24
    My youngest daughter and I are growing a few veggies together for the first time! We planted some seeds, and are growing some veggies from seedlings. We did everything in pots and planters on our deck, b/c we live in a wooded area with lots of critters who have devoured our neighbors' gardens in the past. So we are trying Romaine lettuce (already reaping the benefit of that!), green red and yellow peppers, tomatoes, cucumbers, strawberries, and raspberries. So far, so good! - 6/15/2011   10:16:48 AM
  • REDSHOES2011
    Get people eating vegetable and fruit period before we put them off them again.. I am personally more worried what the Governments of the world let the food industry put in to junkfood than the chemicals to keep what is grown bug munched free..
    I would rather a few chemicals than E. coli bacteria that is found on forest slugs thriving for the time being causing kidney failure.. Pest or Cholera- utopia can stab us in the foot before we get off first base.. - 6/15/2011   10:02:21 AM
    I wash all my fruits & veggies.
    I buy local produce but can't afford the organic ones, how ever I feel eating any kind of fruit or veg. is good for you as long as you wash them really good. I love everything on both lists. - 6/15/2011   9:29:59 AM
  • 21
    I wash my fruits and veggies thoroughly and buy organic when it is possible and affordable. - 6/15/2011   8:52:43 AM
    Thanks for posting. It helps me focus where I will spend my organic "budget". - 6/15/2011   8:13:19 AM
    Most of my favorites on on the "dirty" list! Love grapes, blueberries and strawberries....will continue to buy as usual....cannot afford to buy organic. - 6/15/2011   8:04:26 AM
    Oh, for the love of puppies and all that is lovable in the world. I'm pleased to see that so many people are giving this article puzzled looks.

    - 6/15/2011   8:03:45 AM
    I don't get this!! - 6/15/2011   8:02:16 AM
  • 16
    Dirty or not, I can't afford organic at the grocery store. Luckily, I trust the farmers at my local farmer's market to be giving me a clean, safe product, regardless of whether they can afford an Organic certification... so at least half of my veggies are "clean." The other half... well, I'm just glad I'm able to get them on my plate. - 6/15/2011   6:55:18 AM
  • 15
    This just left me confused. A better explanation of this would be VERY helpful. - 6/15/2011   1:21:24 AM
  • 14
    I never really worried about how "clean" or "dirty" my produce is. I wash it - or rinse it, rather - but that's about it. I'm cheap, so I probably won't go organic, and I probably won't change my habits based on this, either. Wish the article included some more details about what makes these foods "clean" or "dirty," and what the risks are of eating the "dirty" dozen. Maybe then I'd care more... - 6/14/2011   11:09:19 PM
  • 13
    Most of my favorites are on the dirty list...figures! I try to buy organic but it can get pricey and they're not always readily available. However, I'm moving in a couple months and my new home will have lots of organic options...something to look forward to! - 6/14/2011   4:03:47 PM
  • 12
    I buy organic. - 6/14/2011   3:52:31 PM
  • 11
    Great info! Thanks for posting. - 6/14/2011   2:26:00 PM
  • 10
    O.k., please tell me WHY, HOW and WHEN did corn become part of the Clean 15? My friend who no longer works at Monsanto, told me years ago to stay away from corn as it was the most pesticide ridden vegetable around. And why is Cilantro on the list? When I was growing up, we grew cilantro in our gardens to not only to eat, but to keep bugs off of other plants in the garden. I considered it (along with basil and marigolds) to be part of an organic gardening staple. I'm very confused now and I find these lists very strange. - 6/14/2011   2:25:37 PM
  • 9
    What to do, what to do, what to do! - 6/14/2011   1:48:43 PM
    Unfortunetly the .pdf is not very suitable for downloafing to an android. It is just a tiny pictire if the tri-fold. I cam't read it eadily or convert it to a readable list??? - 6/14/2011   1:29:56 PM
  • LORTHOM2001
    great info for us. I also just read it on Yahoo! Health News. Good things to know - 6/14/2011   1:23:24 PM
  • 6
    I try and buy everything I can organic. - 6/14/2011   11:40:59 AM
  • BECKYJ221
    Luckily, I grow many of the "dirty" dozen on my own so at least during spring-fall I can create my own organic foods :) - 6/14/2011   11:26:56 AM
  • 4
    This is very useful information - I had no idea that cilantro was one of the dirty dozen. I will look for organic cilantro from now on. - 6/14/2011   11:11:42 AM
  • 3
    Most of my favorites are on the dirty list! I try and buy organic when I can, but sometimes I need to save the money. - 6/14/2011   10:48:24 AM
  • 2
    I think it's more the peeling that removes those nutrients, not the washing. Apples, potatoes and the like have lots of good things in the peel, but to get rid of pesticides you take away the peel and therefore some fiber, vitamins, etc.

    Hope that helps! :) - 6/14/2011   10:45:37 AM
  • 1
    I'm curious...how does washing a fruit or veggie remove vitamins, nutrients and fiber? - 6/14/2011   10:31:35 AM

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