The Clean 15 and The Dirty Dozen

The Clean 15 and The Dirty Dozen
The Clean 15 and The Dirty Dozen

Have you ever wondered about the amount of pesticide on and in the produce you purchase at the grocery store? 

Studies have shown there may be two or more pesticides on produce we purchase and some may have upwards of four types.  It has also been found that infants and children may be affected by pesticides to a greater degree than adults because of their lower body weight, growth and lack of efficiency by their bodies to detoxify pesticides.


Now, scientists have found when we don’t consume fruits and vegetables grown using pesticides, we do not have high levels of pesticide residue within our bodies and we are quick to eliminate these chemicals when they are consumed.  Chemicals that may cause certain kinds of cancer,  interrupt hormones, and cause birth defects.

It has been found that washing fruit and vegetables eliminates only a small amount of the pesticide from conventional produce and that it is beneficial to peel the skin from this produce.  It is also important to realize pesticide is absorbed by produce and is found throughout the entire fruit or vegetable, not just on the skin.


While buying organic produce can be more expensive than conventionally grown, the cost difference is often negligible (say 10 cents/kg of bananas).  I think of the added cost as an investment in my health and well-being.

It is important to note that the EWG’s lists do not take into consideration the nutrient content of organic vs conventionally grown produce, which is also something to consider.  Conventionally grown produce often comes from soil amended only with the use of synthetic fertilizers.  After years of cultivation this soil is depleted of natural minerals and matter, the produce grown there will in turn be lacking in nutrients as well.  Produce grown organically, however, is grown in soil which must be amended by natural means and will be richer in nutrients.  This is another post for another day!


The Environmental Working Group has come up two lists of fruit and vegetables.  The Dirty Dozen is a list of the most highly contaminated conventionally-grown produce and the Clean 15 is a list of the least contaminated conventionally grown produce.  It is a great guide for purchasing the safest produce possible.  When grocery shopping I buy only those things on the Dirty Dozen list organically grown, but will buy conventionally grown produce from the Clean 15.

 The Dirty Dozen (in order of contamination)

  1. Apples
  2. Celery
  3. Sweet bell peppers
  4. Peaches
  5. Strawberries
  6. Nectarines
  7. Grapes
  8. Spinach
  9. Lettuce
  10. Cucumbers
  11. Blueberries
  12. Potatoes
The Clean 15 and The Dirty Dozen - The Dirty Dozen
The Clean 15 and The Dirty Dozen – The Dirty Dozen

The Clean 15 (in order of least contamination)

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

This information and a handy carry tag listing the Clean 15 and the Dirty Dozen can be found at the Environmental Working Group’s website.


What are your produce buying habits?  Do you try to purchase organic produce when possible?