By now, the benefits of buying organic are pretty clear. For both the planet and our health. But buying organic isn’t always easy (or even possible in some places). And if you’re out to eat? Unless the restaurant specifically indicates that something on the menu is organic, chances are it’s not. Because non-organic is cheaper (truth).
At Loveleaf Co., we’re all about doing the best you can (without the stress). Which is why we love the Environmental Working Group’s yearly report on the conventionally grown fruits and vegetables with the highest and lowest pesticide residue. Aka the “Dirty Dozen and the Clean Fifteen.” The list breaks down which foods you should ALWAYS buy organic (or otherwise avoid) to limit your pesticide exposure.
About the Dirty Dozen and Clean Fifteen Report
According to the Environmental Working Group’s analysis of test data from the US Department of Agriculture, almost 70 percent of the produce sold in the U.S. comes with pesticide residues. The USDA found 225 different pesticides popular fruits and vegetables Americans eat every day. All produce was washed and peeled before testing, which shows that buying organic and/or avoiding the Dirty Dozen is that much more important.
Kale had not been tested by the USDA for almost 10 years. But in 2019, the USDA tests revealed that kale is one of the most contaminated fruits and vegetables. More than 92 percent of kale samples contained pesticide residue and on 60% of kale samples was Dacthal (aka DCPA), which has been classified by the Environmental Protection Agency as a possible human carcinogen and has been prohibited for use in Europe since 2009. (Source)
Why Pesticides Are Bad For Your Health
There are serious concerns about the safety of pesticides found on produce. Eating fewer pesticides has been shown to lower the risk of cancer and there is an association between the consumption of foods high in pesticide residues and fertility problems (sources here and here).
But there’s good news. One study showed that after only six days (!) of eating organic food, adults and children had on average a 60 percent reduction in the levels of synthetic pesticides measured in their urine compared to when they were eating a diet high in conventional produce (source).
The Dirty Dozen
Each of these foods tested positive for a number of different pesticide residues and contained higher concentrations of pesticides than other produce.
(To go beyond 12, see the full list here).
The Clean Fifteen
Each of these foods tested for few, if any, pesticide residues.
- Sweet Corn
- Frozen Sweet Peas
- Honeydew Melons
How to Clean Your Produce
To wash produce, you can use this Organic Veggie Wash to remove wax, soil, agricultural chemicals, and handling residue found on both standard and organic fruits and vegetables.
Alternatively, make your own veggie wash! Mix together one part white vinegar with three parts water. Spritz all over the produce and then rinse off with cold water. We like these glass spray bottles for this homemade veggie wash.
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