We know that organic fruits and vegetables are better for our bodies and the planet, along with the farmers that grow them and the overall food industry. The more foods are produced naturally in an organic manner without chemicals and pesticides, the more everyone benefits. Plus, there’s nothing like taking a taste of a delicious apple that has no waxy coating or slicing into a cucumber that doesn’t have that slimy, waxy finish. But organic isn’t always easy to buy on a budget, so that’s why choosing organic foods from “The Dirty Dozen” list each year is so important. Foods on this list are the most heavily sprayed crops of all foods, while foods on “The Clean Fifteen” List are normally a bit safer with less harmful sprays administered.

Every year the Environmental Working Group release a new “Dirty Dozen” list to us based on their evaluations of crops each year that rank highest in pesticides. They’ve recently just shared the 2015 version with the public, so we can head to the produce section with a bit more knowledge and ease. Organic produce has five digit code, which is determined by a 9 in front of the four numbers that make up the PLU, or they will be labeled organic if there is no code (such as on packaged greens).

The Dirty Dozen

These fruits and vegetables should be bought organic when possible since they are the most heavily sprayed crops.

  • Apples
  • Peaches
  • Nectarines
  • Strawberries
  • Grapes
  • Celery
  • Spinach
  • Sweet bell peppers
  • Cucumbers
  • Cherry tomatoes
  • Sugar snap peas (imported)
  • Potatoes
  • Hot peppers
  • Kale
  • Collards

The EWG also notes that 99 percent of apples, 98 percent of peaches and 97 percent of nectarines all tested positive for at least one pesticide residue, while the average (white) potato had more pesticides by weight than any other produce! As usual, grapes and bell peppers are extremely important to buy organic, as most all non-organic grapes and red peppers tested positive for 15 different pesticides.  Other produce especially high in pesticides included cherry tomatoes, imported snap peas and strawberries, which all showed 13 different pesticides apiece!

The Clean Fifteen

These foods contain less pesticide exposure, though buying organic in these is always a plus!

  • Avocados
  • Sweet Corn
  • Pineapples
  • Cabbbage
  • Sweet peas (frozen)
  • Onions
  • Asparagus
  • Mangos
  • Papayas
  • Kiwi
  • Eggplant
  • Grapefruit
  • Cantaloupe
  • Cauliflower
  • Sweet Potatoes

The EWG also found that avocados were the cleanest of all foods in conventional form with only 1 percent showing a detectable trace of pesticides. The also note that an impressive 89 percent of pineapples, 82 percent of kiwi, 80 percent of papayas, 88 percent of mango and 61 percent of cantaloupe showed no residue of pesticides whatsoever. You might also love to know that not one single fruit from this list contained more than four types of pesticides. They also did note that it’s important to choose organic greens when possible, even if they did not appear on this list, since most are typical pesticide suspects. 

So Green Monsters, while it’s always best to buy organic, keep this list in mind next time you head to the store and want to get the most bang for your buck! To see the full report on the findings from this year’s evaluation, visit The Environmental Working Group’s website for more information.

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