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Apples Top New 'Dirty Dozen' Fruit and Vegetable List

The Environmental Working Group (EWG) today released its annual "Dirty Dozen" list of the twelve fruits and vegetables that researchers find contain the highest levels of pesticide residues and are most important to buy from organic growers.  The dozen items, ranked from highest to lowest pesticide load (but all highly susceptible) are:

  • Apples
  • Celery
  • Strawberries
  • Peaches
  • Spinach
  • Nectarines (imported)
  • Grapes (imported)
  • Sweet Bell Peppers
  • Potatoes
  • Blueberries (domestic)
  • Lettuce
  • Kale/Collard Greens

The list shifts slightly each year, with cherries being taken off the 2011 list (and lettuce being added after an brief absence).  In a statement for the EWG's press release announcing the list, a leading pediatrician emphasized the importance of monitoring the quality of food parents serve their children.

"I really worry that pesticides on food are unhealthy for the tender, developing brains and bodies of young children," said Dr. Harvey Karp, MD, FAAP, creator of the book/DVD The Happiest Baby on the Block. "Parents don't realize they're often feeding their little ones fruits and veggies with the highest pesticide residues. Studies show even small amounts of these chemicals add up and can impair a child's health when they're exposed during the early, critical stages of their development. When pesticide sprayers have to bundle up in astronaut-like suits for protection, it's clear parents want to feed their families food containing as little of these toxic chemicals as possible."

The EWG also published its companion list, the "Clean 15," which catalogs fruits and vegetables that are least likely to hold onto pesticide residues if grown by non-organic methods.  Those foods are:

  • Onions
  • Sweet Corn
  • Pineapples
  • Avocado
  • Asparagus
  • Sweet Peas
  • Mangoes
  • Eggplant
  • Cantaloupe (domestic)
  • Kiwi
  • Cabbage
  • Watermelon
  • Sweet Potatoes
  • Grapefruit
  • Mushrooms

Do you choose organic produce when you can, and if so do you use the Dirty Dozen as your guide?

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