Eating for Life: The Dirty Dozen and the Clean 15


Mother was right but there is a little more to it these days. Reducing your exposure to pesticides as much as possible is important when choosing which fruits and vegetables to eat. The following lists can help you determine which fruits and vegetables have the most pesticide residues and are the most important to buy organic. If you avoid the 12 most contaminated fruits and vegetables you will lower your pesticide intake substantially.

If you choose five servings of fruits and vegetables a day from the Clean 15 rather than the Dirty Dozen, you can lower the volume of pesticide you consume daily by as much as 92%!

  • The Dirty Dozen

    1. celery
    2. peaches
    3. strawberries
    4. apples
    5. domestic blueberries
    6. nectarines
    7. sweet bell peppers
    8. spinach, kale and collard greens
    9. cherries
    10. potatoes
    11. imported grapes
    12. lettuce
  • The Clean 15

    1. onions
    2. avocados
    3. sweet
    4. corn
    5. pineapples
    6. mango
    7. sweet peas
    8. asparagus
    9. kiwi fruit
    10. cabbage
    11. eggplant
    12. cantaloupe
    13. watermelon
    14. grapefruit
    15. sweet potatoes
    16. sweet onions

Pesticide contamination for 53 popular fruits and vegetables is based on an analysis of 51,000 tests for pesticides on these foods, conducted from 2000 to 2009 by the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the federal Food and Drug Administration. Nearly all the studies on which the guide is based tested produce after it had been rinsed or peeled.*

These lists are designed to reflect the overall pesticide loads of the most commonly consumed fruits and vegetables. This simple approach provides the best overall picture related to pesticide exposure, giving shoppers confidence that when they follow the guide they are buying foods with consistently lower overall levels of pesticide contamination.

*Source: Environmental Working Group, 2011

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