One of the most challenging aspects of eating clean is the higher prices of quality foods. By opting for grass-fed meats and organic fruits and veggies, you can control your exposure to chemicals and hormones used to treat some of the conventional versions of those products. The downside is that this often means much bigger bills at the grocery store, but did you know there are certain fruits and vegetables that you don’t need to buy organic?
You may have heard of the 12 produce items that have the highest levels of pesticide residue, in a list called the ‘Dirty Dozen’. Each year, the Environmental Working Group (EWG), an environmental advocacy organization, publishes a list of the top pesticide-laden produce items. Their findings are determined by testing samples of commonly available produce for traces of more than 100 pesticides and pesticide byproducts. Their most recent study identified 20 different chemicals on one samples of strawberries, which top the Dirty Dozen list. What’s concerning is their research found that many of these pesticide traces on the Dirty Dozen remained even after washing or peeling. They are:
Sweet Bell Peppers
Notice that these are thin-skinned fruits and vegetables, and the skin is typically eaten. Because these produce items are commonly treated with pesticides, they should should be purchased organic whenever possible.
The EWG produces another list - the ‘Clean Fifteen’. You’ll notice most of these plants are thick-skinned and peel-to-eat. These fruits and vegetables rank lowest in pesticide residues, so it’s safe to buy the conventional version. Sweet corn and avocado top the list, with less than 1% of avocados testing positive for pesticides. Less than 20% of pineapples, onions, and asparagus registered for pesticides. We’ve got the full list below. Stick with conventional for the Clean Fifteen, and save the money you would have spent on the organics for something else!
The Clean Fifteen:
Get the Dirty Dozen and Clean Fifteen guides, and read up more about the EWG’s key findings here.