Each year, the Environmental Working Group (EWG) publishes its highly anticipated list of the Dirty Dozen and Clean 15 fruits and vegetables, providing consumers with essential information about pesticide residues. At the Save Institute, we believe it's crucial for you to be well-informed about these findings, as it can significantly impact your shopping choices and overall well-being.
The Dirty Dozen comprises the top 12 conventionally grown fruits and vegetables found to contain the highest levels of harmful pesticide residues. Conversely, the Clean 15 represents a selection of 15 produce items that, even when conventionally grown, exhibit minimal or negligible traces of pesticide contamination. By staying informed about these lists, you can make better decisions for your health when purchasing fruits and vegetables.
Let's dive into the Dirty Dozen for 2023, starting with the top offender:
Strawberries remain the most heavily contaminated fruit, with pesticides linked to cancer, hormone disruption, and developmental damage. These juicy fruits are packed with Vitamin Cand polyphenolic antioxidants, such as anthocyanins, that provide them with their bright color.
Spinachcontinues to be sprayed with a neurotoxic pesticide that has been banned in the European Union. Samples of spinach have been found to contain as many as 17 other pesticides. Spinach is a great source of Vitamin K1, a necessary nutrient for the synthesis of the bone-building hormone osteocalcin.
3. Kale, collard & mustard greens
These greensare often grown in large quantities and have been found to be contaminated with toxic pesticides, such as DDT. These nutrient-dense greens are rich in calcium, magnesium, and Vitamin K.
The USDA has tracked residues of 30 different pesticides on peaches, with more than 99% of peaches having detectable pesticide residues. Peaches are loaded with beta-carotene and polyphenol antioxidants.
More than half of conventionally grown pears tested bore traces of five or more pesticides in relatively high concentrations. Pears are an important dietary source of polyphenolic antioxidants such as flavonols, anthocyanins, and isoflavones, as well as Vitamins C and K.
The most common pesticide found on nectarines is a neurotoxin called formetanate hydrochloride, used on more than half of all conventional nectarines. Nectarines contain generous amounts of Vitamins A, C, beta-carotene, and polyphenol antioxidants.
Apples continue to be heavily contaminated with pesticides, including a chemical called diphenylamine used to prevent brown spotting. European authorities have restricted this chemical over health concerns, but American regulatory officials gave the chemical a pass, and now conventional apples in the United States are drenched in this toxin after harvest. Apples are rich in polyphenols, particularly phloridzin, which has been shown to prevent bone loss.
With more than 96% of conventional grapes testing positive for pesticide residue, you’re basically guaranteed that non-organic grapes are adding toxins to your body. Red varieties are famous for having among the highest levels of resveratrol, an antioxidant that defends against both cancer and heart disease.
9. Bell & Hot Peppers
Bell and hot peppers are a flavorful addition to any dish, but unfortunately, they often carry a heavy pesticide load. Conventional bell and hot peppers can contain up to 115 different pesticide residues, including acephate, a chemical that's highly toxic to the nervous system. Choosing organic peppers can help protect your health while still enjoying their immune-boosting properties, as peppers are packed with vitamins C and A, both of which are important for overall and bone health.
Despite their small size, cherries pack a powerful nutritional punch. They are high in antioxidants, particularly anthocyanins, which have been shown to have anti-inflammatory and anti-cancer properties. Cherries also contain significant amounts of vitamin C, potassium, and fiber. However, conventional cherries can contain up to six different pesticide residues, including iprodione, a chemical that's been linked to cancer and other health problems.
blueberries are a true superfood, rich in nutrients and antioxidants that benefit overall health. These small, flavorful berries are packed with vitamins C and K, as well as manganese and fiber. The antioxidants found in blueberries, such as anthocyanins, quercetin, and resveratrol, have been linked to reduced inflammation, improved cognitive function, and a decreased risk of chronic diseases like heart disease and cancer. Unfortunately, conventional blueberries can contain up to 42 different pesticide residues, which can have negative effects on health. Choosing organic blueberries is the best way to avoid these harmful toxins and reap the full range of benefits these berries have to offer, including stronger bones due to their high levels of vitamin K.
12. Green Beans
Green beans are a nutritious vegetable that many people enjoy, but unfortunately, they're often treated with toxic pesticides that can be harmful to our health. In fact, conventional green beans can contain up to 27 different pesticide residues, including acephate and chlorpyrifos, two chemicals that are highly toxic to the nervous system. These toxins can accumulate in our bodies over time and may lead to various health issues. By choosing organic green beans, we can protect ourselves from this toxic load and enjoy the many nutritional benefits that green beans have to offer, including vitamins C and K, fiber, and bone-boosting minerals like calcium and magnesium.
Clearly, Savers should try to consume organic versions of the produce in the Dirty Dozen list.
The Clean 15
If you're looking to avoid pesticides in your produce, the Clean 15 is a great place to start. These fruits and vegetables are generally low in pesticides, making them a safer choice for you and your family. Here are the 15 produce items that made the cut for 2023:
- Sweet Potatoes
- Honeydew melon
- Sweet peas (frozen)
- Sweet corn
Choosing organic produce whenever possible is always the best way to avoid toxic pesticide residues. However, when organic options aren't available or affordable, choosing items from the Clean 15 can help minimize your exposure to harmful chemicals.
What This Means to You
By prioritizing organic produce whenever possible and opting for the Clean 15 when organic is not available, you can significantly reduce your exposure to harmful pesticides and chemicals, which can have a negative impact on your bone health and overall well-being.
Remember that fruits and vegetables should always be a part of a healthy diet, but choosing the right ones can make a significant difference in your body's toxic load. Aim to incorporate plenty of Foundation Foods into your diet, which are rich in the nutrients your bones need to thrive, such as calcium, magnesium, and vitamin K.
But the sad truth is that it’s impossible to avoid all chemicals and toxins that can interfere with improving the health of your bones. And that’s where the Osteoporosis Fresh Start Cleanse comes in. It’s a seven-day easy-to-follow cleanse that helps your body flush out toxins, including osteoporosis drugs.
If you want accelerated bone building, better liver and kidney function, more energy and vitality, a younger appearance, and better sleep, try the Osteoporosis Fresh Start Cleanse today. You deserve a vibrant and healthy life!
Just read dirty dozen clean fifteenth.
Sweet corn? Nothing was mentioned about GMO. Which requires less pesticides. I read that article as well.
Organic if possible on that one.?
Any root vegetable is absorbing all the contaminants that are present in the soil. The only way a potato or an onion can be “clean” is if it is grown in completely uncontaminated soil. The label “organically grown” is not true unless the soil can be proven to be clean. This is impossible. Sorry.
Potatoes have been on the dirty dozen list for years and I think this is the first year they’re off although not on the clean 15 list. Interesting that sweet potatoes are on the clean 15 list. I’ve been buying both organic for years. Red organic grapes are very rarely seen unfortunately. Thank goodness for Costco frozen organic pitted cherries and frozen organic mango. They’re amazing.
Thanks for this list. I always check it every year, but it does not change much. I almost never eat of the “dirty dozen. There are lot of vegetables and fruits that are “in between” these two lists of clean and dirty, but I usually choose organic when in doubt.
Tomatoes are off the “dirty” list this year, but not on the clean. How much less dirty are they in 2023 than in 2022? LOL. I do buy some nonorganic tomatoes from local farmers in the summer, but I’m sticking with organic canned tomatoes.
Orange bell peppers are a rare source of zeaxanthine. Sad that bell peppers are on the dirty dozen list. Yet in northern parts and Canada lots are being grown in hot houses which may decrease the quantity of pesticides.
It would be interesting to compare hot house grown fruits and vegetables with the ones grown in fields. Thanks a million for all the information you provide us regularly.
Very interesting but worrying article….I presume you are reporting this from the USA and wonder how it is here in UK & Europe? As a vegetarian l try to grow at least some of my veggies & herbs. Will now certainly sow more greens – spinach etc… and try to find organicproduce for the rest.
Why are there asterisks after papaya and sweet corn on the second list?
How about washing thoroughly the produce would’d that help rid of pesticides?
Dirty Dozen – Many can be peeled.
Would it be better to have a peeled pear than none at all?
Kale and spinach – does rinsing, then boiling remove the harmful chemicals? What would replace those green veggies nutritionally?
I’m thankful that my husband enjoys gardening. He has planted spinach, kale, and other kinds of greens along with broccoli. Later, he will plant lots of other veggies including peppers and green beans. They are so good fresh and pesticides free!
Thank you , Ita.