Walk in to your local grocery store and you are most likely greeted by a beautiful and colorful display of fruits and vegetables. Start your shopping here and you’ll be eating healthy, right? Not necessarily.
Each year, the EWG (Environmental Working Group) releases a list that singles out produce with the highest pesticide loads, or the “Dirty Dozen”. They also name the “Clean Fifteen”, the list of produce least likely to hold pesticide residues. According to EWG.org: “The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s tests have found widespread pesticide contamination on popular fruits and vegetables. At least one pesticide was found on nearly three-quarters of the samples analyzed by the US Department of Agriculture in 2014, the most recent year tested.” Pesticides are meant to kill “pests”, or insects, plants and fungi that disrupt the growth of produce. But, these pesticides are dangerous for people!! Pesticides have been linked to multiple health problems including: brain and nervous system toxicity, cancer, hormone disruption and skin/eye/lung irritation.
Below are the EWG 2017 lists of most contaminated produce, or “Dirty Dozen” and least contaminated, or “Clean Fifteen”.
2017 “Dirty Dozen” list:
Sweet Bell Peppers
2017 “Clean Fifteen” list:
Sweet Corn (some corn is GMO)
Sweet Peas (Frozen)
PLU codes are four digit numbers that identify different types of conventional produce. For example, #4011 is the code for a standard yellow banana. The number 9 prefix added to a PLU signifies that an item is organic. For example, #94011 is the code for an organic yellow banana.
Buying ORGANIC produce is your healthiest option. But, if buying all organic is cost prohibitive, start with the “Dirty Dozen”. This will help you keep your grocery budget in check and keep you from feeling overwhelmed! Also, you can keep your costs down if you only buy only organic fruits and veggies that are in season. Produce that is out of season is transported in from other parts of the US (or world) and are obviously more expensive. Buying frozen fruit also keeps the cost down.