Other than sounding like the tagline for a cheesy superhero B-movie, these silly-sounding terms actually have meaning in the green community. The “Dirty Dozen” are so named because they represent the foods that are most affected by pesticide use. If you’re going to buy anything organic, this is the produce on which you should splurge.
The reason they’re more “worth it” to buy organic than other products is that these fruits and vegetables are more affected by pesticides used in production than other types of produce. The list includes produce that were tested and shown to have high pesticide residue, or found to have multiple types of residue – in some cases greater than 80 types of pesticides were discovered on a single sample!
It’s understood that the higher prices of organic produce can often drive consumers away, especially college students on a budget. The general consensus is that it is better to eat non-organic fresh fruits and vegetables than to simply skip them altogether. However, if you make a habit of eating fresh produce, it is suggested you trade in for organic for at least these twelve products.
In an effort to educate the public on the importance of organic food and to make it more budget friendly, the non-profit Environmental Working Group analyzes the Department of Agriculture’s data about pesticide use and puts together these lists every year. They estimate that by switching to organic for just these dozen products, you can reduce your exposure to pesticides by 80%.
The Dirty Dozen are listed in order of most pesticides present in the sample. Take a look!
The Dirty Dozen
3. Sweet Bell Peppers
6. Nectarines (imported)
Now, on the other end of the spectrum we have “The Clean Fifteen”. This is the produce with the lowest amounts of pesticide traces found.
The Clean Fifteen
2. Sweet Corn
6. Sweet peas
9. Cantaloupe (domestic)
13. Sweet Potatoes
I hope that the information provided in lists like these will help you make better, healthier and more sustainable decisions in the grocery store. Keeping informed is a simple way to make smarter decisions for the earth and you.