The Environmental Working Group has released a 2013 update to their list of 12 Foods You Should Always Buy Organic, based on pesticide risk and exposure. The goal of the list is to help consumers lower their pesticide intake by avoiding the 12 most contaminated fruits and vegetables and choosing the least contaminated produce.


This year’s list contains the usual suspects like Spinach, Apples and Stawberries, but for the second year the EWG have expanded the Dirty Dozen™ with a Plus category to highlight two crops – domestically-grown summer squash and leafy greens, specifically kale and collards. Although these crops did not meet traditional Dirty Dozen criteria, they  were commonly contaminated with pesticides exceptionally toxic to the nervous system. Green beans were on last year’s Plus list because they were often contaminated with two highly toxic organophosphates. Those pesticides are being withdrawn from agriculture. But leafy greens still show residues of organophosphates and other risky pesticides. That’s why they are on the Plus list for 2013.

The 2013 Dirty Dozen List

The following list summarizes the “dirtiest” or most pesticide-laden produce items. If you can only swing a few organic items at the grocery store each week, make sure to prioritize these fruits and vegetables.

  1. Apples
  2. Strawberries
  3. Grapes
  4. Celery
  5. Peaches
  6. Spinach
  7. Sweet bell peppers
  8. Nectarines
  9. Cucumbers
  10. Potatoes
  11. Cherry tomatoes
  12. Hot peppers
  13. Kale / collard greens (Dirty Dozen Plus)
  14. Summer Squash (Dirty Dozen Squash)

The 2013 Clean 15 list


If you can’t afford to buy organic all the time, these 15 fruits and vegetables have the least amount of pesticide contamination.

  1. Mushrooms
  2. Sweet potatoes
  3. Cantaloupe
  4. Grapefruit
  5. Kiwi
  6. Eggplant
  7. Asparagus
  8. Mangoes
  9. Papayas
  10. Sweet peas – frozen
  11. Cabbage
  12. Avocados
  13. Pineapple
  14. Onions
  15. Corn

For more information about pesticides and produce, reference OGP’s Dirty Dozen and review EWG’s 2013 Shopper’s Guide to Pesticides in Produce.