Big News! The Environmental Working Group just released their list of the Dirty Dozen and the Clean Fifteen Fruits and Veggies. Now, let me explain what this list is and break it all down for ya! The name Dirty Dozen and Clean Fifteen may seem a little weird, if you have no idea what we’re talking about. And by the end of this post you’ll know what you NEED to buy organic versus what you can buy conventional, because you don’t need to tell me how pricey it is to buy everything organic!
Every year the Environmental Working Group takes USDA data and compiles a list of fruits and veggies which have the most amount of pesticide residue on or in them when they get to your home and a list which have the lowest pesticide contamination. This is called The Dirty Dozen (the 12 most contaminated crops) and The Clean Fifteen (the 15 least contaminated crops). It is highly recommended that you ALWAYS buy the dirty dozen fruits and veggies organic. Whereas the clean fifteen crops you can choose to buy conventionally. Obviously, it is ideal that we buy all or as much as possible organic, but often times this just isn’t do-able.
12. Bell Peppers
2. Sweet Corn*
6. Sweet Peas
11. Honeydew Melon
(*Corn and Papaya are commonly Genetically Modified. Try to avoid these foods or consume organic versions of these.)
Why does it matter?
According to The Chan School of Public Health, women who ate two or more servings perday of produce with pesicide residues were 26 percent less likely to have a successful pregnancy than those that avoided crops with high levels of pesticides. As for men, those who ate fruits and veggies with high amounts of pesticide residue had poorer sperm quality. It has been found that there is a correlation between pesticide residues and consumption and fertility levels.
There has also been a direct correlation and increase between the rise of certain illnesses and the rise of pesticide use, most specifically glyphosate (a pesticide most notably used by Monsanto). We have seen increased pesticide build-up (or accumulation) and the inability to break down these toxins particularly in autism, alzheimers, and even cancer.
My two cents
I love this list and that there is a comprehensive resource available for individuals to make safer, healthier, better options. Unfortunately, the Dirty Dozen and Clean Fifteen don’t take into account GMOs (genetically modified organisms) and their potential impact on human and/or environmental and ecosystem health. This list also doesn’t look at how pesticides are impacting our ocean and water systems, ecosystems, wildlife, environment, or world. Pesticides aren’t only harming our health, they are also harming the health of our planet including the other species that we share the Earth with. It’s also not looking at the impact of getting food around the world. For example, if you’re like me and you live in Canada or Toronto, chances are the avocados or bananas you’re buying didn’t grow here. The amount of emissions and greenhouse gases to get these “Clean Fifteen” fruits and veggies to our plates, is also harming our planet and our health.
Next time you go grocery shopping, go armed with the Dirty Dozen list. Try to buy foods that are locally grown and don’t need to be shuttled around the world to get to your plate. Think about the farmers that are plucking the tomatoes off the vine. Consider the water that it takes to water the crops, and the ponds and lakes and oceans where the run off water is going. Remember that animals are being impacted by deforestation, for example the Palm Forests, where palm oil comes from (which is the main ingredient in the majority of vegan spreads, think Vegan Becel and Earth Balance). Think about the truck that drove your food to the store or farmers market.
Just like we preach mindful eating, be a mindful consumer and grocery shopper as well!
To grab your own copy of the Dirty Dozen and Clean Fifteen list, head over to the Environmental Working Group!