Many people believe that the pesticides used to grow conventional or non-organic produce may have played a role in their cancer and that removing pesticides from our food may help re-build and strengthen their bodies. Although there is no definitive research proving either belief, should we avoid buying some or all fruits or vegetables that are conventionally grown?
To help answer this question, the Environmental Working Group (EWG), the nation’s leading environmental health research and advocacy organization, created the Shopper’s Guide to Pesticides in Produce. This guide, which is updated each year, highlights the cleanest and dirtiest conventionally-raised fruits and vegetables. The EWG recommends that if a conventionally grown food tests high for pesticides, go for the organic version instead whenever possible.
The 12 most pesticide-laden foods are known as “The Dirty Dozen”. When choosing fruits & veggies included in the Dirty Dozen, the EWG suggests buying these foods as ORGANIC.
2014 Dirty Dozen includes:
- Sweet bell peppers
- Nectarines (imported)
- Cherry tomatoes
- Snap peas (imported)
*When possible, the EWG suggests that hot peppers and leafy greens like kale and collard greens should also be purchased as organic as these veggies are often tainted with unusually hazardous pesticides.
The 15 least pesticide-laden foods are known as “The Clean 15″. If the fruit or veggie is listed on the Clean 15, it’s ok to buy it as non-organic or conventional.
2014 Clean 15 includes:
- Sweet corn
- Sweet peas – frozen
- Sweet potatoes
* Keep in mind that the information above is based on produce bought at supermarkets. If you shop at farmers markets, ask about their growing practices. Even if what they sell isn’t certified organic, many local farmers use as few pesticides as possible, making the foods on the Dirty Dozen become good choices, even if they aren’t certified organic.
* The EWG maintains that the health benefits of a diet rich in fruits and vegetables outweigh the risks of pesticide exposure. So it’s better to eat conventionally-grown produce than not eating fruits and vegetables at all.