Want Pesticides? Buy These! (The EWG’s Dirty Dozen for 2013)

make berries organic

make berries organic

Every year the Environmental Working Group comes out with its Shopper’s Guide to Pesticides in Produce™, a list of the top 12 list of fruits and veggies most likely to contain the highest amounts of pesticides, and its “Clean Fifteen” list of produce that is least likely to contain toxic residue. If money is tight the lists are good shorthand for determining which products are most crucial to choose organic and which can be bought conventional.

In this year’s report, which was released in April 2013, the EWG stresses that “The health benefits of a diet rich in fruits and vegetables outweigh the risks of pesticide exposure,” but for your health, items on the Dirty Dozen list (plus this year’s two Plus category items, summer squash and leafy greens like kale and collards, which the EWG writes are, “commonly contaminated with pesticides exceptionally toxic to the nervous system”) must be bought organic or avoided altogether. While local and organic are always best, if you must buy conventional produce, make sure you only choose items from the Clean Fifteen list.

The Dirty Dozen for 2013

  1. Apples
  2. Celery
  3. Cherry tomatoes
  4. Cucumbers
  5. Grapes
  6. Hot peppers
  7. Nectarines (imported)
  8. Peaches
  9. Potatoes
  10. Spinach
  11. Strawberries
  12. Sweet bell peppers

Dirty Dozen Plus: Leafy greens like kale and collard greens, and Summer squash such as zucchini and crookneck squash


The Clean Fifteen for 2013

  1. Asparagus
  2. Avocados
  3. Cabbage
  4. Cantaloupe
  5. Sweet corn
  6. Eggplant
  7. Grapefruit
  8. Kiwi
  9. Mangoes
  10. Mushrooms
  11. Onions
  12. Papayas
  13. Pineapples
  14. Sweet peas
  15. Sweet potatoes

An interesting addition to the list this year is discussion about GMOs. According to the EWG report, “Genetically modified plants, or GMOs, are not often found in the produce section of grocery stores. Field corn, nearly all of which is produced with genetically modified seeds, is used to make tortillas, chips, corn syrup, animal feed and biofuels. Because it is not sold as a fresh vegetable, it is not included in EWG’s Shopper’s Guide to Pesticides in Produce. Nor is soy, another heavily GMO crop that makes its way into processed food.

The genetically modified crops likely to be found in produce aisles of American supermarkets are zucchini, Hawaiian papaya and some varieties of sweet corn. Most Hawaiian papaya is a GMO. Only a small fraction of zucchini and sweet corn are GMO. Since U.S. law does not require labeling of GMO produce, EWG advises people who want to avoid it to purchase the organically-grown versions of these items.”

Bold type is mine. I like to avoid GMOs like the health risk they are and I hope you do too.

Stay healthy and eat your fruits and veggies,


Kirsten Quint Fairbanks is health coach and wellness practice owner who lives happily, works gratefully, home-schools secularly, dances inexpertly, and cooks traditionally in the San Francisco Bay Area. She offers in-person and remote health coaching anywhere and holistic skincare in downtown San Francisco. Read more about her here.

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