Choosing Fruits and Vegetables

The majority of your diet should be plant based, so I always recommend that you eat your fruits and vegetables. Even though the health benefits of a diet rich in fruits and vegetables far outweigh the risks of pesticide exposure, I think it is important to be aware of the amount of pesticides that you may consume with them. So I always recommend buying organic produce if feasible. Not only is it smart to reduce your exposure to pesticides, but buying organic sends a message that you support environmentally friendly farming practices that minimize soil erosion, safeguard workers and protect water quality and wildlife.

But sometimes organic produce may not be accessible or affordable. That’s why I love the EWG Shopper’s Guide Pesticide in Produce, because it helps consumers (like me) who are concerned about pesticides, make healthier choices, given their circumstances. It has 2 lists (the Dirty Dozen and the Clean Fifteen), and will help you determine which fruits and vegetables have the most pesticide residues and are the most important to buy organic. You can lower your pesticide intake substantially by avoiding the 12 most contaminated fruits and vegetables and eating the least contaminated produce. This essential Shopper’s Guide makes it easy to meet a goal of eating at least 7-9 servings of fruit and vegetables a day while reducing your exposure to pesticides.

Why should we be concerned about pesticides?

Pesticides are a public health problem and can be extremely toxic to human health and the environment. U.S. and international government agencies alike have linked pesticides to nervous system toxicity, cancer, hormone system disruption and IQ deficits among children. “Pesticides are toxic,” said Sonya Lunder, Senior Analyst at EWG. “They are designed to kill things and most are not good for you. The question is, how bad are they?”

Here are the 2 latest updated lists from the Shopper’s Guide

Dirty Dozen (Buy these organic)

1 Apples
2 Celery
3 Strawberries
4 Peaches
5 Spinach
6 Nectarines – imported
7 Grapes – imported
8 Sweet bell peppers
9 Potatoes
10 Blueberries – domestic
11 Lettuce
12 Kale/collard greens

Clean 15 (Lowest in Pesticide)

1 Onions
2 Sweet Corn
3 Pineapples
4 Avocado
5 Asparagus
6 Sweet peas
7 Mangoes
8 Eggplant
9 Cantaloupe – domestic
10 Kiwi
11 Cabbage
12 Watermelon
13 Sweet potatoes
14 Grapefruit
15 Mushrooms

Analysts at EWG synthesized data collected from the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the Food and Drug Administration from 2000 to 2009. Produce is ranked based on a composite score, equally weighing six factors that reflect how many pesticides was found in testing of on each type of the produce and at what levels. Most samples are washed and peeled prior to being tested, so the rankings reflect the amounts of the chemicals likely present on the food when is it eaten.

For a downloadable list of this Shopper’s Guide or an app, go to

Also check out a previous blog I wrote awhile ago on Pesticides on our food.

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