Each year, the Environmental Working Group graces us with the dirty dozen conventionally grown fruits and veggies to avoid like the plague at the grocery store, along with the clean fifteen foods that are a safer bet for your health. Because although we always mean to buy organic (you do, don’t you?), the organic-foods section at some supermarkets is pretty weak, or sometimes totally absent.
Before going into the 2014 list, I just want to point out that while the “cleaner” foods are probably safe for your body, they’re still less kind to the environment than organic versions, thanks to pesticides and chemical fertilizers that run off into water supplies (and also require fossil-fuel energy to produce, adding to climate change).
So organic is still better.
The Dirty Dozen Foods List
EWG tested four dozen fruits and vegetables, and these bad boys made the dirty dozen list (ordered from highest-to- lowest pesticide content):
- Sweet bell peppers
- Imported nectarines
- Cherry tomatoes
- Imported snap peas
There are two close runners-up you should know about: leafy greens (think spinach and kale) and hot peppers both tested positive for toxins that act on the human nervous system. (As someone who inhales kale by the bowlful and drowns everything in hot sauce, this makes me very, very sad.)
The Clean Fifteen List
Ordered from lowest-to-highest pesticide content:
- Avocado (yay! I’m in love with guacamole)
- Sweet corn
- Frozen sweet peas
- Onion (double yay! I know it’s weird, but I eat these raw)
- Sweet potatoes
A Note on GMOs
EWG reports that, thankfully, GM foods just aren’t very common in the produce section. But they’re all over the place in packaged-foods aisles, especially if you’re buying products with soy, corn (including corn syrup) or sugar.
So look for organic packaged foods, or those labelled “Non-GMO Project Verified” to play it safe.