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The Dirty Dozen

Last updated 6 years ago

Are you aware of the Dirty Dozen? No, I’m not talking about the movie.  The Dirty Dozen are a reference to the twelve fruits and vegetables that have the most pesticides on them. Now, don’t get me wrong if you can’t switch your food items to organic, eating conventional fruits and vegetables is still healthier for you than excluding them from your diet, or replacing them with high fat/high calorie snacks.   Any diet high in fruits and vegetables has a multitude of health benefits, whether the items are organic or not. This article is for those of you that have been curious about trying organics, but aren’t sure exactly where to start.  You can start by switching to organics for all of the items on the Dirty Dozen list or by just switching out a few of the top items.

The Environmental Working Group (EWG) puts out lists of fruits and vegetables that have been shown through Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) testing in order of the amount of pesticide residue to be found on the food items. The EWG ranks pesticide contamination for 53 popular fruits and vegetables.  The list should be used to reduce your risk of exposure as much as possible. The top twelve on this list are referred to as the “Dirty Dozen”.  The 15 items found to have the least amount of pesticides are labeled the” Clean 15”. The Shoppers Guide lists the fruits and vegetables in order from the highest amount of pesticides, to the least based on testing completed by the Pesticide Testing program. 


1) Apples                                                     

2) Celery                                                     

3) Strawberries                                           

4) Peaches                                                   

5) Spinach                                                  

6) Nectarines - imported                        

7) Grapes - Imported 

8) Sweet bell peppers

9) Potatoes

10 )Blueberries - domestic

11) Lettuce

12) Kale/Collard Greens

Visit their website to see what foods are included in the Clean 15. Go to

Erika Watson-Lawson is a registered dietitian with Memorial Hospital.

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Disclaimer: The materials provided are intended for informational purposes only. You should contact your doctor for medical advice. Use of and access to this website or other materials do not create a physician-patient relationship. The opinions expressed through this website are the opinions of the individual author and may not reflect the opinions of the hospital, medical staff, or any individual physician or other healthcare professional.
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