The “Dirty Dozen™” Of Produce
Why buy organic produce, you ask? Every year the Environmental Working Group (EWG) produces a list of the top produce which contains the most pesticide residue. The EWG (founded in 1993) is located in Washington, DC and is a non-profit company that specializes in research and advocacy. They inform and protect the public health and environment with regard to pesticides and toxins in produce and other products. EWG’s team of scientists and various other important experts have worked hard to make sure someone is standing up for the public health when government and industry won’t. Through their reports, online databases, mobile apps and media campaigns, EWG is educating and enabling consumers to make safer and more informed decisions about the products they buy and the companies they support. Here is a list of this year’s “Dirty Dozen™” produce, according to the EWG:
- Sweet bell peppers
- Cherry tomatoes
In 2012, about 70 percent of the fruit and 61 percent of the vegetables grown in the U.S. had detectable levels of pesticide residues. However, the vast majority — 98 percent of the fruits and 95 percent of the vegetables — were below the legal limits.
Why should I be concerned with Pesticides?
According to the EWG, pesticides are toxic by design. They are created expressly to kill living organisms that are considered “pests” such as insects, plants, and fungi. Pesticides pose health dangers to people. These risks have been confirmed by independent research scientists and physicians across the world. The U.S. and several other government agencies have linked different pesticides to a variety of health problems.
- Brain and Nervous System Toxicity
- Hormone Disruption
- Skin, Eye, and Lung Irritation
How do you determine a fruit or vegetables’ ranking?
The EWG uses six different tests results to come up with a combined score for each type of produce:
- Percent of samples tested that had detectable pesticides.
- Percent of samples that had two or more pesticides.
- The average number of pesticides found on a sample.
- Average amount (in parts per million) of all pesticides found.
- The maximum number of pesticides found on a single sample.
- The total number of pesticides found on the product.
To make the Dirty Dozen™ list as useful as possible, the EWG presents data on the fruits and vegetables that consumers are more likely to purchase. We combined kale and collard greens into a single item called “leafy greens”. Corn on the cob and frozen corn are combined and listed together as “sweet corn.”
It is not always possible, or financially affordable for someone to buy all of their produce as organic, but it would be better for your health if you could. If you can only afford some organic purchases the ones listed here should be your first choices. Or buy produce treated with an organic pesticide. Therefore, this list is provided to help you with your grocery shopping.