Environmental Working Group (EWG) publishes a shopper's guide with a list of Dirty Dozen and Clean Fifteen. The list changes annually so check to see which organic produce you should buy and which conventional produce you can buy safely. It's not easy to feed your family healthy meals when you are busy and are on a budget. And especially with food prices on the rise and organic foods being so expensive, it might be easier to buy cheap packaged processed foods. But in the long run, it's not cheaper. Your family's health is priceless and you wouldn't want to risk their being sick from eating foods exposed to pesticides, artificial ingredients, added sugar and 'unknown' food additives.
According to EWG.org, a non-profit organization that tests consumer products for safety, states, "Some 65 percent of thousands of produce samples analyzed by the U.S. Department of Agriculture test positive for pesticide residues. That's bad news for the growing number of Americans who want to minimize their consumption of pesticides. Parents' concerns have been validated by the American Academy of Pediatrics, which in 2012 issued an important report that said that children have "unique susceptibilities to [pesticide residues'] potential toxicity." The pediatricians' organization cited research that linked pesticide exposures in early life and "pediatric cancers, decreased cognitive function, and behavioral problems."
It advised its members to urge parents to consult "reliable resources that provide information on the relative pesticide content of various fruits and vegetables.'
But, how do you know WHAT to buy? How do you know what to spend your money on?
EWG updates its "Shopper's Guide" that lists Dirty Dozen PLUS and Clean Fifteen foods every year. The organization researches, tests, and publishes the report to educate shoppers in this dizzying world of food shopping.
Listen to Dr. Andrew Weil, a renown integrative MD, a medical expert on natural health and wellness, talking about why organic is healthier for you and why you should refer to EWG's Shopper's Guide.
And here is Dr. Alex Lu from Harvard University, explaining what effects pesticides have on children.
In 2014 testing of 48 popular items by EWG - 3 of them in different variety - 51 items were on the full list according to the amount of pesticide residues were on the produce. Here are some interesting findings from the testing.
EWG's Shopper's Guide
On the Dirty Dozen PLUS:
- Every sample of imported nectarines and 99 percent of apple samples tested positive for at least one pesticide residue.
- The average potato had more pesticides by weight than any other food.
- A single grape sample contained 15 pesticides. Single samples of celery, cherry tomatoes, imported snap peas and strawberries showed 13 different pesticides apiece.
From Clean Fifteen:
- Avocados were the cleanest: only 1 percent of avocado samples showed any detectable pesticides.
- Some 89 percent of pineapples, 82 percent of kiwi, 80 percent of papayas, 88 percent of mango and 61 percent of cantaloupe had no residues.
- No single fruit sample from the Clean Fifteen™ tested positive for more than 4 types of pesticides.
- Detecting multiple pesticide residues is extremely rare on Clean Fifteen™ vegetables. Only 5.5 percent of Clean Fifteen samples had two or more pesticides.
You can download the current year's pocket size below.
Again, you don't have to buy organic all the time. You can save money by buying conventional from Clean Fifteen but buy organic from the Dirty Dozen PLUS list. And if organic options are not available, always clean your produce with vinegar and cook them before eating to reduce pesticide exposure. Eat your vegetables and fruits to be healthy but eat safely!