The Environmental Working Group (EWG) has released its Dirty Dozen and Clean Fifteen list for 2014. EWG has published their annual shopper’s guide, which includes the lists, for more than a decade now to help educate people on eating healthy and to reduce exposure to pesticides in produce.
The Dirty Dozen
The Dirty Dozen list includes produce that tested positive for pesticide residues and contained a high concentration of pesticides relative to other produce items. Apples top the Dirty Dozen list, followed by strawberries, grapes, celery, peaches, spinach, sweet bell peppers, imported nectarines, cucumbers, cherry tomatoes, imported snap peas and potatoes. This year, hot peppers and kale were added to the list because they contained trace amounts of dangerous toxins, even though they didn’t meet some of the other Dirty Dozen criteria.
According to the EWG, every sample of imported nectarines and 99% of apple samples tested positive for pesticide residues. Potatoes, on average, had more pesticides by weight than any other food. A single grape sample contained 15 different pesticides, and samples of celery, cherry tomatoes, imported snap peas, and strawberries had 13 different pesticides apiece.
The Clean Fifteen
The Clean Fifteen list includes produce that is least likely to hold pesticide residue. The cleanest food on this list is avocado, as only 1% of tested samples contained pesticides. The other foods on the “clean” list are sweet corn, pineapples, cabbage, frozen sweet peas, onions, asparagus, mangoes, papayas, kiwis, eggplant, grapefruit, cantaloupe, cauliflower and sweet potatoes. These foods not only had few pesticides detected in tests, but also low total pesticide concentrations.
About 89% of pineapples, 82% of kiwi, 80% of papaya, 88% of mango, and 61% of cantaloupe had no pesticide residues at all. Only 5.5% of the Clean Fifteen samples had two or more pesticides detected.
To ensure the lowest possible exposure to pesticides, buy foods off the Dirty Dozen list organically whenever possible. See EWG’s full 2014 report for detailed information and to access the full list of tested produce.