Right now I’m a graduate student, and buying organic food is not always possible. So, I prioritize. Due to the way that some fruits and vegetables are grown, buying organic may not make a huge difference – like produce that doesn’t require a lot of pesticides to begin with. The Environmental Working Group performs annual tests on all types of fruits and vegetables to figure out exactly what produce is worth buying. Their lists, called the “Dirty Dozen” and the “Clean Fifteen” says what produce has the highest and lowest amount of pesticides. Stick with these lists, and you can save money while being a conscious consumer. Here’s the results from the latest list from 2016!
The Dirty Dozen
When you see any of these fruits and vegetable, buy organic! These were all found to have high levels and numbers of pesticides, which are reduced when you buy them organic.
- Strawberries – on average, strawberries were found to have nearly 6 different types of pesticides per sample, versus an average of 1-2 for most other produce.
- Apples – last year, 99% of apples tested positive for pesticide residue.
- Grapes – One sample of grapes had 15 pesticides!
- Sweet Bell Peppers
- Cherry Tomatoes
Kale, Collard Greens and Hot Peppers – These were not on the dirty dozen list but were found to frequently have high levels of a particularly toxic chemicals, especially those damaging to the human nervous system, making it smarter to buy organic when possible.
Get the longer list here.
The Clean Fifteen
This is the produce least likely to have pesticide residue. Most samples had no pesticide residue, and only about 5% had two or more types of pesticide detected. If you are on a budget or can’t find what you want in the organic section, look to these options for buying conventional.
- Avocados – Avocados were the cleanest. Only 1% of samples had any pesticides at all.
- Sweet Corn
- Frozen sweet peas
- Cantaloupe – These are clean, but not always clean. 62% tested pesticide-free.