A simple guide to safer produce

Avoid toxic fruits and veggies with the 2013 Dirty Dozen list

We love buying organic. Not only is it smart to reduce your exposure to toxic chemicals, but picking organic also supports environmentally friendly farming practices.

Organics are typically more expensive than conventional produce, so make the most of your grocery budget by choosing organic versions of the fruits and veggies that are most heavily contaminated.

The Environmental Working Group (EWG) is here to help with its 2013 Shopper’s Guide to Pesticides in Produce. The guide ranks 48 fruits and vegetables by pesticide contamination, based on more than 28,000 samples taken by the USDA and FDA. (A striking 67 percent of food samples still had residue after washing or peeling!)


The 2013 Dirty Dozen

The 12 fruits and vegetables found to be most contaminated. Whenever possible, buy these organic.
1. Apples
2. Celery
3. Cherry tomatoes
4. Cucumbers
5. Grapes
6. Hot peppers
7. Nectarines – imported
8. Peaches
9. Potatoes
10. Spinach
11. Strawberries
12. Sweet bell peppers

Two more to watch for: EWG has expanded the Dirty Dozen with a “Plus” category to highlight two crops: domestically grown summer squash and leafy greens (specifically, kale and collard greens). They didn’t meet traditional dirty dozen criteria but were contaminated with pesticides “exceptionally toxic to the nervous system” (organochlorine pesticides and organophosphates, respectively).


The 2013 Clean Fifteen

The fruits and vegetables found to be the least contaminated. It’s okay to buy the conventional, non-organic varieties.
1. Asparagus
2. Avocados
3. Cabbage
4. Cantaloupes
5. Sweet corn
6. Eggplants
7. Grapefruits
8. Kiwis
9. Mangos
10. Mushrooms
11. Onions
12. Papayas
13. Pineapples
14. Sweet peas – frozen
15. Sweet potatoes


Download the guide, print it out and keep it handy in your wallet.
• Get the app for your mobile devices (Android, iPhone/iPad or Windows).
Read the full list (all 48 fruits and vegetables with pesticide residue data).
Find a farmers’ market or join a CSA to get fresh, local and organic produce.