These Are the “Dirty Dozen” Foods of 2018 (Pesticide-Laden Produce You Should Avoid)

What could be healthier than a nice salad? Well, that depends on the salad. Buffalo wing salad for example is not going to fit the bill. But even seemingly virtuous ingredients can contain hidden dangers.

You may not know that conventionally grown produce contains pesticide residue even after it’s washed and/or peeled. That means the healthy highlights you may have memorized for your go-to salad may be substantially lacking.

If you depend on the information printed on packaged produce, there’s a similar problem. While nutrition information may tell us how many calories, sugar, carbs, and protein can be found in a serving, there’s no report of all the other stuff in that same serving.

Fortunately someone (the Environmental Working Group, specifically) is looking out for us. So even if the pesticide information isn’t included at the store or produce stand when we’re making our selections, you can bookmark this list as a handy resource on the go.

What Is “The Dirty Dozen?”

The U.S. Department of Agriculture runs tests to determine the amounts of pesticide residue in samples of fruit grown and sold in the United States. The Environmental Working Group (EWG) is a non-profit, non-partisan research and education organization with a mission to empower people to live healthier lives.

As part of this mission, the EWG analyzes the Department of Agriculture’s tests to let consumers know the percentage of kinds of produce that contain this residue and which have the highest concentrations. They call this list “The Dirty Dozen.”


These Are the Dirty Dozen Foods of 2018:

So without further ado, here are the dis-honorees for 2018:

  1. Strawberries
  2. Spinach
  3. Nectarines
  4. Apples
  5. Peaches (Just about all – more than 99% – of conventional peaches tested positive for pesticide residue. Makes you want to rethink that cobbler, huh?)
  6. Pears
  7. Cherries
  8. Grapes
  9. Celery
  10. Tomatoes
  11. Sweet Bell Peppers
  12. Potatoes

Did you know there is a dirty dozen in your beauty products too? Ditch the Dirty Dozen! Beware of These 12 Toxic Chemicals Lurking in Your Beauty Products

Alternatives to the Dirty Dozen Foods

If some of your favorites made the list, you still have options. The first and easiest solution is to buy organic produce exclusively. As we all know, organic produce is more expensive and sometimes much more so.

If your budget can’t accommodate that switch, an alternative to organic produce is to grow your own. Or, you can buy produce from “The Clean 15” list – the antithesis of the pesticide-laden group above.

These Are the Clean 15 Foods of 2018:

The Clean 15 is comprised of conventionally grown produce that had the lowest incidence and concentration of pesticide residue.

They are:

  1. Avocados
  2. Sweet Corn (non-GMO)
  3. Pineapples
  4. Cabbage
  5. Onions
  6. Sweet Peas (Frozen)
  7. Papayas (non-GMO)
  8. Asparagus
  9. Mangoes
  10. Eggplant
  11. Honeydew
  12. Kiwi
  13. Cantaloupe
  14. Cauliflower
  15. Broccoli



Use the Dirty Dozen Foods to Make Informed Nutrition Choices

With the Dirty Dozen and Clean 15, you can consider your nutritional choices from a more holistic perspective.

Vitamins and minerals should always be taken into account. But when we forget to factor in pesticide residue, we miss an important element. And it will affect us whether or not we consider it.

So, empower yourself with the facts. Happy, healthy eating!

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Johnny Jedi

Johnny was born in Rasario, Argentina and moved to the Big Apple when he was a teenager. There he found his three passions: yoga, writing and his pet chinchilla Henry. And yes, you guessed it, Johnny likes Star Wars.

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