This post contains the new Clean 15 and Dirty Dozen list for 2023. An image of the list is included, so you can save it on your phone to use while shopping.
Is Eating Organic Always Necessary?
I often get asked if I eat one hundred percent organic, and if it’s necessary for optimal health. I personally always try to eat fruits and vegetables that are certified organic, but will buy spray-free produce from farmers who use organic methods and haven’t been through the certification process. The organic certification process is expensive, and not all farmers can afford it. I’d recommend getting to know the farmers at your local markets and asking about their farming practices.
I choose not to eat conventional fruits and vegetables, and I recommend choosing organic when possible. I understand though that eating everything organic or spray-free isn’t always possible, and neither essential, for optimal health. But, there are a few certain fruits and vegetables which are highly sprayed, and would affect your health, therefore should always be eaten organic, and this is where the list helps.
What are the Clean 15 & Dirty Dozen?
The dirty dozen are the fruits and vegetables which have the highest pesticide levels, and these are best purchased organic. The clean 15 is the produce which has the lowest levels of pesticides and is safer to buy conventional (although organic is always the best option).
Note: samples are tested for pesticides after they have been prepared to be eaten. The food has been thoroughly washed, and peeled when required. Any pesticide residues are still detected after this process.
What’s the Difference Between Organic and Conventional Produce?
Conventional produce is grown by farmers who use a large amount of chemical fertilisers and pesticides to increase their yield.
Organic produce is grown without the use of chemical fertilisers to reduce their negative environmental impacts. This results in food with low, to no traces of synthetic chemical fertilisers, pesticides and herbicides.
On the other hand, I like to know that I am supporting farmers who are cultivating sustainable practices. It is not only healthier for us when we eat this food, but the practices are healthier for the environment and planet, too. Conventional farming increases soil erosion and water pollution, whereas organic agriculture supports the replenishment of the soils and natural ecosystems.
Who are the The Environmental Working Group (EWG)?
The Environmental Working Group is an organisation which researches test results by the Department of Agriculture and the Food and Drug Administration of more than 46,000 samples of produce. After analysis, they release a Shopper’s Guide to Pesticides in Produce. This guide is updated every year because the farmers in conventional agriculture continue to spray their food with toxic pesticides.
They also publish data on water, energy, toxic chemicals, agriculture, personal care products, household and consumer products. Their intention is to fight for consumers’ rights to live healthier lives.
The Dirty Dozen
The Clean 15
Dirty Dozen 2023 Highlights
Clean 15 2023 Highlights
You can read the EWG’s full report here.
Is it necessary to wash conventional produce?
Washing all your conventional produce is recommended, which does help remove some of the pesticides, but not all of them, as toxins are inside the plant. Studies have shown that rinsing and/or scrubbing with plain cold water is effective enough (read this article to learn how to do this). Although I definitely recommend using filtered water, instead of tap water. If you want to go the extra step, you could use this natural, plant based product.
The Clean 15 and Dirty Dozen list isn’t meant to scare you; it’s here to help you make informed decisions for you and your family. Now you can feel confident in knowing which produce to buy organic, and how to wash conventional food to remove many of the pesticides. Save the list above to your phone so you have it on hand when you go shopping.