Sunday, the Environmental Working Group released its annual Shoppers Guide to Pesticides in Produce, with the headline-grabbing "Dirty Dozen," or list of 12 fruits and vegetables most likely to be contaminated with pesticide residue. Newly crowned the dirtiest fruit in America: apples. Pesticides were found on 98 percent of the fruit; it was followed on the list by celery and strawberries (see the full list after the jump). To come up with the report, EWG analyzed nine years' worth of USDA data measuring residues in 53 common fruits and vegetables -- all washed or peeled.
SFoodie has kept a copy of the Dirty Dozen and its opposite, the Clean Fifteen, taped to our refrigerator for years. We love the EWG's annual shoppers' guide not just for what it tells us to avoid but what it tells us not to fear. Not every conventional fruit tree or vegetable bush is smothered in toxic chemicals, and if your primary reason for choosing between organic and conventional is reducing your family's pesticide intake, the Clean Fifteen lists conventionally grown vegetables -- onions, corn, mangoes, cabbage -- least likely to test positive for pesticide residue.
The EWG's annual list is not controversy-free, as the Chicago Tribune points out. SFoodie doesn't need to remind you that there are many other reasons for buying organic, local produce.
And as the EWG even notes in the executive summary, the long-term
benefits of a diet high in produce -- whether fresh or frozen,
conventional or organic -- outweigh the long-term risks of pesticide
exposure. You're not going to stay healthy on organic burgers and organic French
For those of you wondering how chemical-saturated your favorite veggies are, the EWG's website includes a full ranking of the 53 fruits and vegetables it examined. And SFoodie can't recommend enough Cindy Burke's To Buy or Not To Buy Organic, which treats readers like intelligent adults who want to make informed decisions about the food they buy given the fact that they don't have all the money in the world.
The Dirty Dozen
6. Nectarines (imported)
7. Grapes (imported)
8. Sweet bell peppers
12. Kale/collard greens
The Clean 15
6. Sweet peas
9. Cantaloupe (domestic)
13. Sweet potatoes