The Environmental Working Group’s (EWC) Shopper’s Guide to Pesticides in Produce which called the Dirty Dozen is an annual guide which lists the top twelve vegetables and fruits contaminated with pesticides and chemical fertilizers. Many green families are opting for organic food when making meals for their families, but high prices are a deterrent for some. While the price of organic food is dropping as consumer demand rises, shoppers on a budget will appreciate this handy tool when they hit their local grocer’s produce aisles.
Families who can’t afford to make the switch to becoming 100% organic, can still reduce the majority of chemicals and toxins they consume by avoiding the produce on EWC’s “Dirty Dozen” list and choosing to buy these items organic. As a bonus the EWC also publishes a list of the “Clean 15,” or produce which has the least amount of pesticide and fertilizer residue. A table of all 53 vegetables and fruits is listed in order from most to least contaminated (the lower the number, the more pesticides are found).
Studies have shown organic food to be higher in nutrients and devoid of dangerous toxins and pesticides that can be harmful to people’s health and the environment. Studies have also shown that the same man-made chemicals used to grow food are linked to cancer, diabetes, allergies, infertility, deformities, asthma, and many other health epidemics currently experienced by people world-wide. And though eating organic foods does not guarantee a healthy diet or improved health benefits, understanding how food is grown is an important step towards keeping open discussions on what individuals deem is best for the health of themselves and their families.
According to the EWG, the produce they have listed is tested and then ranked by the amount of pesticide residue found by the USDA Pesticide Testing Program. Laboratory tests are done on the most popular produce and some groups of vegetable and fruits are combined for ease of reporting. The EWG also says that test were performed after produce was washed and peeled and a report on the methodology used is included on their website.
The Dirty Dozen and Clean 15 guide can be downloaded to a computer as a PDF and printed out for future shopping trips. Or consumers can keep it simple, and reduce their use of paper, by downloading the free Dirty Dozen app to a smart phone. Android and iPhone versions are both available.
So next time you want to make an apple pie simply pull out the list when shopping for your ingredients. The EWC 2011 Dirty Dozen marks apples as the number one contaminated produce, so you might want to stick to organic apples when baking your pie. On the opposite end, onions are listed as the cleanest produce on the EWC 2011 Clean 15, so you can make your classic onion fritata with minimal worries. Either way, you can decide what is best for you and your family with the help of the EWC’s portable guide pesticide contamination found in fruits and vegetables.