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The Dirty Dozen: An Updated List of Pesticide Heavy Fruits and Veggies

Earlier this year, we reported on the 12 Foods You Should Always Buy Organic, based on pesticide risk and exposure. The Environmental Working Group just came out with a 2012 update to this list.

What Changed?

While many of the same fruits and vegetables still make the list, the order has changed, and there is one swap. Kale dropped out of the top 12, and cucumbers made their debut in the dirty dozen.

The EWG has also called out two items in addition to the dirty dozen – green beans and leafy greens (including collard greens and kale) – noting that they may contain “pesticide residues of special concern.” Although these items did not meet traditional Dirty Dozen criteria, conventional green beans and greens are often contaminated with “highly toxic organophosphate insecticides.” These insecticides have largely been removed from agriculture over the past decade, they have not been banned and therefore still show up on some conventional food crops.

The EWG also noted that consumers who are concerned about consuming GMOs should opt for organic varieties of sweet corn, as there are currently no labeling requirements in the U.S.

The List:

The complete, updated Dirty Dozen list is summarized below. These are the items with the highest levels of pesticides detected, and thus are those that should be prioritized for organic purchases.

  1. Apples
  2. Celery
  3. Sweet Bell Peppers
  4. Peaches
  5. Strawberries
  6. Nectarines (imported)
  7. Grapes
  8. Spinach
  9. Lettuce
  10. Cucumbers
  11. Blueberries (domestic)
  12. White Potatoes

For more information about pesticides and produce, reference OGP’s Dirty Dozen article or visit the EWG’s Frequently Asked Questions page.

Image Credit: Denim Dave/Flickr