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EWG Updates the Dirty Dozen

The good folks at the Environmental Working Group recently released an updated Shopper’s Guide to Pesticides, the go-to source for which fruits and vegetables carry the most and least pesticides. 

As budgets tighten and some families begin to prioritize their organic options, this list can be invaluable in helping to evaluate the healthiest choices: choosing organic for the produce designated as the “Dirty Dozen” can reduce pesticide exposure by nearly 80 percent.

So, what’s new about the Dirty Dozen? 

Three new foods made the list: kale, lettuce, and carrots, replacing potatoes, spinach, and red raspberries.

The newly updated Dirty Dozen now stands as follows:

  • peaches
  • apples
  • bell peppers
  • celery
  • nectarine
  • strawberries
  • cherries
  • kale
  • lettuce
  • imported grapes
  • carrots
  • pears

The fruits and vegetables that you can stress less about include onions, avocados, frozen sweet corn, pineapple and mango.

Check in with EWG for a full list of fruit and vegetable rankings, calculated using these criteria:

  • percentage with pesticides detected
  • percentage detecting multiple pesticides
  • average of different pesticides on a single sample (One sample of a sweet bell pepper tested harbored 11 different pesticides!)
  • average amount of all pesticides found
  • maximum number of pesticides on a single sample
  • total number of pesticides found per fruit or vegetable group

The Guardian reported that organic food sales were down by 14% last year, and another decline of 5% is predicted for 2009.  If you need to choose which food to buy organic, choose the Dirty Dozen.

 Print your own wallet-sized Dirty Dozen/Clean 15 guide and take it with you to the store for easy referral!

 Photo Credit: *clairity* under Creative Commons


  1. Their web site appears to be down right now … Thanks for summarizing the changes!

  2. Robin, I just pulled out my prior EWG pocket guide and it looks like spinach and potatoes dropped off the dirty dozen…but neither one shifted to the ‘clean 15’ EWG list either, soooo I guess there’s some middle muddle there, eh? Thanks for this, I’ll do an update on Shaping Youth. btw, have you seen the Mission Organic 2010 at http://www.organic-center.org? They’re doing a fun viral to amp up awareness and increase supply/demand.

  3. p.s. I should add that I just pulled up the Organic Center pocket guide and they have a visual depiction that’s great for ‘at a glance’ shopping too. (though being that it’s from the organic center, they’re going to have a strong bias toward more don’ts…inc. green beans, peas etc.) Nice secondary visual add though…


  4. I realize that peanuts are a legume but aren’t they one of the dirtiest foods out there? I thought I read somewhere that peanuts are sprayed with more pesticides than any other food product! And let’s face it… kids are eating peanut butter more than many fo the fruits and veggies on the dirty dozen.

    • I totally agree. Peanuts are grown on the same fields as cotton crops after the cottons are harvested. Cotton crops require a lot of pesticides, and most of the pesticides remain on the fields. Therefore, even if they did not add anymore pesticides to the peanuts crops there are massive amount of pesticides still left in the soil.

  5. Susan Janssen says:

    Good information–thank you!
    Can you tell me about the pesticide level in artichokes? None of the lists seem to include this vegetable.
    Susan Janssen

  6. One way to teach children healthy eating habits is to teach them to grow some of their own food organically. Check out this book. It is a guide to growing the dirty dozen organically in Containers-

    Container Gardening for Health: The 12 Most Important Fruits & Vegetables for Your Organic Garden (ISBN:0978629329)

  7. Thank you for the sane opinion. Me & my neighbour were preparing to do some examination about that. We got a good book on that matter from our local library and many books were not as informative as your site. I am pleased to retrieve such information that I have been searching for a long while. :)


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