Eating organic can be confusing, time consuming and expensive. Fortunately, each year the Environmental Working Group makes it easier by publishing it’s Dirty Dozen and Clean Fifteen lists.
What’s the big deal with pesticides?
Pesticides are poison. They are made to kill living things. If that isn’t barbaric-sounding enough, independent researchers and medical professionals have confirmed that many pesticides are harmful to humans, especially children. According to the Environmental Working Group, “As acknowledged by U.S. and international government agencies, different pesticides have been linked to a variety of health problems, including:
- Brain and nervous system toxicity
- Hormone disruption
- Skin, eye and lung irritation”
Who is the Environmental Working Group?
The Environmental Working Group is a non-profit, non-partisan organization. They are committed to protecting human health and the environment. Their mission is: “…to empower people to live healthier lives in a healthier environment. With breakthrough research and education, we drive consumer choice and civic action.”
What is the Dirty Dozen?
Each year, the EWG analyzes pesticide residue testing data from the USDA to determine which conventionally grown, fresh produce items have the highest levels of pesticide contamination. (It’s important to note that the data comes from produce that was cleaned and ready to be eaten.) Armed with this information, we can make wise choices about how we spend our money and what we feed our children and ourselves. Number one on the list below, strawberries, contained the highest levels of pesticides, spinach ranked next, and so on.
The Dirty Dozen: The worst offenders
- Sweet Bell Peppers
- Baker’s Dozen of Dirty – Hot Peppers
Conventional hot peppers do not contain contamination levels high enough to make the Dirty Dozen list, but were “contaminated with insecticides toxic to the human nervous system.” Do we really want to eat something found to be toxic to our nervous system?
What’s the Clean Fifteen?
If the Dirty Dozen is the bad news, the Clean Fifteen is the good news. Of the 48 fruits and veggies tested, these fifteen conventionally-grown foods were the least likely to contain pesticide residues. Sweet corn is the cleanest, followed by avocados, etc.
- Sweet corn
- Sweet peas – frozen
- Honeydew Melon
Check out the Environmental Working Group’s full report here.