Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Dirty Dozen - Can You Name the 12 Dirtiest Foods?

I couldn't. I had no idea and was quite shocked at the list. The Environmental Working Group (EWG) just released the top 12 dirtiest foods for 2010. What does this mean? It means that these 12 items contain high amounts of pesticide contamination even after washing or peeling.

Here is the top 12 dirtiest foods in order from the most contaminated.

Bell Peppers
Grapes (Imported)

By avoiding this list of foods, you can reduce your pesticide exposure by as much as 80%. Other options are to grow them yourself chemical free or buying them organic.

Here are the cleanest foods in order of least contaminated.

Sweet Corn
Sweet Peas
Sweet Potato

"EWG analysts have developed the Guide based on data from nearly
96,000 tests for pesticide residues in produce conducted between
2000 and 2008 and collected by the U.S. Department of Agriculture
and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

You can print off this nice little card to carry around with you to remind you of what is and isn't considered "clean".

To learn more head over to


  1. Do you realize that most of the dirty foods are also extremely expensive to buy organic? I did and I wish there was some way to do that, but for now I can only try to grow my own as much as possible.

  2. If you don't actually print the list, just remember, anything with a "thin skin" will likely be dirty, thicker skins/peels are typically cleaner.

  3. I agree Jennifer. I hope to grow most of these myself. Strawberries are some of my favorite food, but to buy them organically around here is usually around $3.99 lb. That is just crazy!

  4. I guess I will stil buy them they r good foods and berries r great 4 the brain!

  5. like maria stated, thick skins that can be removed are not as much of an issue as the thin skins. peel the apples and potatoes.

  6. K. Engle, chemistMay 18, 2010 at 5:08 AM

    35% of new cancer cases this year will be causually linked to cigarette smoking, another large proportion to obesity. Very few are actually attributable to chemical exposure because toxicology is dose-dependent--that is, there is a point where small exposures to pesticides are outweighed by the health benefits you actually receive by compounds in these foods. You would be unwise to deny yourself the antioxidant benefits of blueberries (those compounds that scavenge cell damaging free radicals) because of a misplaced concern about negligible pesticide exposure. Trust your berries.

  7. I was listening to the radio on the way home from something (I think it was NPR) and they were talking about the convincing link between pesticides and ADHD. I haven't looked for the study yet, but I plan to! Just an FYI.

  8. I wonder more about the impact of so much television, with its short segments and excess visual and audio stimulation,and the lack of parenting skills related to the increase in ADHD. So many children receive instant gratification and never learn to have patience and focus.

  9. K. Engle, chemistMay 22, 2010 at 1:37 PM

    Here's a link to the study you're looking for: It's an interesting study, but it's not that telling for two reasons: small (almost insignificant) sample size, and even if there is a link, there is not causal proof established. What I mean by that is, maybe pesticides don't cause ADHD as much as ADHD causes behaviors that increase exposure. Here is a study that links ADHD to childhood weight problems: The finding was that it is possible that children with ADHD engage in compulsive eating that causes weight gain. It combines well with this study in that the link may very well be: ADHD causes compulsive overeating(including fruits/vegetables), which in turn causes increased pesticide exposure. Either way, another tip for those who cared to read this far, pesticides are organic (non-polar) chemicals--meaning they are not very water soluble. You can remove a lot more of them from food by using a small amount of dish soap in the wash water (just a drop in a basin of luke warm water), and then rinsing very well under clean running water.