Each year, the Environmental Working Group (EWG) releases the Dirty Dozen and Clean 15 Lists. The Dirty Dozen 2020 list was released on March 25th, 2020 and has some interesting finds! The Dirty Dozen is a list of the top 12 fresh fruits and vegetables that were tested and found to have the most residual pesticides.
Before we dive into the official list, we’d like to note: this year the most pesticide-contaminated produce did not actually make it on to the list. It was found that the “dirtiest” produce commodity was not actually fresh, but dry – the most contaminated item it raisins.
The EWG Dirty Dozen 2020 list only includes fresh fruits and vegetables, which raisins don’t qualify for. But, it’s definitely worth noting the heavy pesticide presence as it’s a food many may overlook in regards to pesticides. According to the official report, “Almost every sample of non-organic raisins tested – 99 percent – had residues of at least two pesticides.”
DIRTY DOZEN 2020
Surprisingly, spinach and kale made it to the top of the list coming in right below strawberries. What’s more, the report actually states that “on average, kale and spinach samples had 1.1 to 1.8 times as much pesticide residue by weight than any other crop tested.” Most troubling in that, however, is that kale was found to mostly be contaminated with a pesticide “sold under the brand name Dacthal. The Environmental Protection Agency classifies DCPA as a possible human carcinogen, and in 2009 the European Union banned it.”
The EU is often ahead of the US on both environmental regulations and regulations surrounding food safety. The fact that they banned DCPA and we use it regularly, and heavily, on kale should be a red flag.
Those partaking in the celery juice trend may want to rethink their morning juice. Though the “Medical Medium” who popularized the trend does suggest using organic celery only, many opt for non-organic celery for juicing due to availability and price.
While we should be mindful of the Dirty Dozen 2020 foods and purchase organic when necessary, there’s another list that focuses on a more positive note: The Clean 15s. These are the fresh fruits and vegetables that showcased the least amount of pesticides when tested.
Clean 15 2020
- Sweet corn
- Sweet peas (frozen)
- Honeydew melon
When trying to reduce pesticide consumption, it’s not always possible to find fresh produce that’s organic (and/or affordable). If you must opt for conventionally grown produce and the item hit the Dirty Dozen list, consider cooking the food before consuming. The EWG claims cooking the food reduces the amount of pesticides on it. And, as always, wash your produce with plenty of warm water and soap to clean the outside as best as possible.