An apple a day? Not so fast


I eat apples a lot, and I mean a lot.  Gala, Fuji, McIntosh, Red Delicious, Granny Smith.  No, I don’t discriminate, I love them in all colors, shapes, and sizes.  However, my love for apples is not unconditional.  I must have organic or none at all.  For years I have been following the Environmental Working Groups annual listing of the twelve most pesticide ridden fruits/vegetables called the “Dirty Dozen” and have been disappointed nearly every year because my beloved apples always place high on this list.  No worries though, the EWG actually tests 53 fruits and vegetables and ranks them according to their pesticide load. This is really beneficial to consumers concerned about their pesticide intake and about the impact buying organic has on their wallet.  Buying organic produce is always the best practice but sometimes people do not have access to or can afford it.  So what I personally practice and recommend to my clients is to eat only organic if it is on the dirty dozen.  Also, if buying organic is not possible, eat produce from the  “Clean Fifteen” list.  Of the 53 items of produce tested the “clean fifteen” are the least pesticide ridden.  According to the EWG,  “Consumers who choose five servings of fruits and vegetables a day from the Clean 15 list rather than from the Dirty Dozen can lower the volume of pesticides they consume by 92 percent. They will also eat fewer types of pesticides. Picking five servings of fruits and vegetables from the 12 most-contaminated products would result in consuming an average of 14 different pesticides a day. Choosing five servings from the 15 least contaminated fruits and vegetables would result in consuming fewer than two pesticides per day.”  Below I have posted the Dirty Dozen and the Clean Fifteen for your convenience.  You can also get a free PDF download of EWG’s listing here:

A final note, although I always recommend that my clients wash produce with environmentally friendly products like Environne, be aware that washing does not impact the rankings on this list.  The testing was conducted on produce that was already cleaned and washed.
Dirty Dozen  (Buy these organic)

  • Apples
  • Celery
  • Strawberries
  • Peaches
  • Spinach
  • Nectarines– imported
  • Grapes – imported
  • Sweet bell peppers
  • Potatoes
  • Blueberries – domestic
  • Lettuce
  • Kale/collard greens

Clean 15  Lowest in Pesticide ( Onioins) to higher levels (Mushrooms)

  • Onions
  • Sweet Corn
  • Pineapples
  • Avocado
  • Asparagus
  • Sweet peas
  • Mangoes
  • Eggplant
  • Cantaloupe – domestic
  • Kiwi
  • Cabbage
  • Watermelon
  • Sweet potatoes
  • Grapefruit
  • Mushrooms