Kitchen Stewardship | A Baby Steps Approach to Balanced Nutrition

New 2010 Dirty Dozen Produce List Update Released by EWG

April 29th, 2010 · 39 Comments · What to Buy

If you try to buy organic when it counts to be gentle on your budget, you’re probably familiar with the Dirty Dozen produce list published by the EWG (Environmental Working Group), the same organization that puts out the Skin Deep Cosmetic Safety Database that we talked about last week.  The Dirty Dozen is the list of the 12 fruits and vegetables that will bring the most pesticides to your table compared to all the others.

On the other end of the list lies the Clean 15, where you’ll find produce with the lowest levels of chemical residue to affect your body.

blueberries on the 2010 EWG Dirty Dozen Produce List

EWG has just released a new 2010 update to the Dirty Dozen and Clean Fifteen lists.  You can download a printable “Shopper’s Guide to Pesticides” (that includes the complete list of the Clean 15 too) to take with you to the store.  EWG also posted a 3-minute video of Dr. Andrew Weil, a natural health expert, speaking about how to use the Dirty Dozen and Clean Fifteen guide practically to buy organic produce.

UPDATE: There are only two changes, but here’s the new 2011 Dirty Dozen produce list!

Some of his main points include:

  • Buy organic OR reduce consumption OR avoid conventional versions of the dirty dozen, if your budget doesn’t allow organic versions of the produce.
  • Shift from eating foods on the dirty dozen to clean 15, and you will have a measurable drop in pesticide levels.
  • “If I can’t get organic versions [of the Dirty Dozen], I’m not going to eat them.” (Dr. Andrew Weil)
The 2010 Dirty Dozen
  1. Celery
  2. Peaches
  3. Strawberries
  4. Apples
  5. Blueberries
  6. Nectarines
  7. Bell Peppers
  8. Spinach
  9. Kale
  10. Cherries
  11. Potatoes
  12. Grapes (Imported)

Here’s a great printable pocket guide for the Dirty Dozen and Clean 15.

What Are the Changes?

When the EWG updated these pesticide lists last year for 2009, I was very curious about what changes had been made since 2008.  I did a comparison last year, and you can see an early Monday Mission called Memorize the Dirty Dozen Produce List to help you compare last year’s list to the new version.  I also discuss some of the ways I use the Dirty Dozen list at the store to make organic produce decisions.

Off the List

Lettuce, Carrots and Pears were on the 2009 list and have been booted from the 2010 Dirty Dozen.

New This Year

Blueberries, Potatoes, and Spinach stepped in to take their place as produce that contributes to 90% of our chemical load.  Interestingly, both potatoes and spinach were on the 2008 list but got cut for last year.

I could have sworn blueberries used to be on the Clean 15, so I’m concerned about that jump!

In my estimation, lettuce, carrots and pears will still have a scarlet “X” on them in the grocery store, because they must be “close enough”, and that’s kind of how I’ve treated potatoes and spinach this year after they slid from last year’s updated Dirty Dozen.  bell peppers on the dirty dozen EWG 2010 produce list

The 2010 Clean Fifteen
  1. Onions
  2. Avocado
  3. Sweet Corn
  4. Pineapple
  5. Mango
  6. Sweet Peas
  7. Asparagus
  8. Kiwi
  9. Cabbage
  10. Eggplant
  11. Cantaloupe
  12. Watermelon
  13. Grapefruit
  14. Sweet Potato
  15. Honeydew Melon

Do remember to wash even the melons, even though they’re on the clean 15.  I have read other sources that say cantaloupes, for example, can be very heavily sprayed.  Our bodies are generally safe because of the very thick rind on the melon, but you want to make sure you scrub the outside very well before slicing it and rolling it around on the cutting board that will soon be home to your cut fruit.

Does Washing Help Reduce the Pesticides?

Washing helps, but the dirty dozen and clean fifteen lists take washing and peeling into account.  There are still internal chemicals floating around all these produce items.  (If you want to feel better about the washing you can do, check out my comparison of 8 different types of produce wash.)

Here’s what I don’t understand:  the 2010 Dirty Dozen and Clean 15 explanation still says:

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.

Is there no new data?  How has the list been updated?

In any case, both the new and old lists can direct you how to spend your product budget when it comes to buying organic produce. I just bought organic pears yesterday, because they were only 30 cents more than conventional and both were on sale.  Even though they’re off the 2010 pesticide guide, I still feel pretty good about that decision for my family.

We’ll talk more about pesticides and way to avoid them, both by paying attention to EWG’s Dirty Dozen and Clean Fifteen and by gardening organically, in two weeks when Laura at Heavenly Homemakers hosts the Spring Cleaning: Get the Junk Out! carnival about pesticides.

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39 Comments so far ↓

  • New 2010 Dirty Dozen Food List | Heaven In The Home

    [...] Katie, from Kitchen Stewardship, has done a great post about the new Dirty Dozen food list. This is a printable list naming the top 12 foods you should try to buy organic.  These fruits and veggies are the ones with the highest pesticide residues at the grocery. [...]

  • Laryssa @ Heaven In The Home

    Thanks for this info! I linked to you when I told my readers about this.
    .-= Laryssa @ Heaven In The Home´s last blog ..Saying Hi… =-.

  • ~M

    Thanks! I’m sad to give up wild blueberries. Do you have a list of the clean 15? Do you buy the dirty dozen produce from a farmer’s market if it’s conventional?

    Katie Reply:

    M,
    If you click on the link to the EWG report, there’s a printable list of BOTH Clean 15 and dirty dozen. At the Farmer’s Market, I ask questions. If I think the farmer is even trying to avoid conventional fertilizers or pesticides, they’re on my happy list. Things like peaches…I just buy them *cringe*. Sometimes being cost-effective is just tricky! I think local produce is going to be better than grocery b/c they don’t have to treat it MORE to make it travel-worthy. But I could just be rationalizing! :) Katie

  • Leah

    Here’s what I don’t understand. I try to buy the organic frozen blueberries because they were always pretty close to being on the Dirty list. My problem is that the frozen “wild blueberries” sold at Whole Foods (my only source) taste terrible! Well, I guess that more accurately, they just have zero taste.

    We even broke down a couple of times and bought the non-organic non-”wild” ones just so we could taste blueberries.

    Wonder why that would be?

    Katie Reply:

    Leah,
    Sometimes organics have to travel too far, and sometimes (in my opinion) all frozen blueberries are subpar, especially compared to fresh picked! We pick about 30 lbs each summer so I don’t ever have to buy frozen. :) Katie

  • JenE

    The Dirty Dozen iPhone app is called “Dirty Produce”.

    To get PDF file of Dirty Dozen, go to EWG’S homepage: http://www.ewg.org/
    Then hover over “health/toxics” on the left side of the page, move to “Our Food” under Subcategories. A new page will come up. Scroll down to “Just Released: New Shopper’s Guide to Pesticides.
    Too bad they didn’t give a direct link, just my opinion ; ).

    Jen

    Katie Reply:

    JenE,
    Thank you so much for helping others out with this! :) Katie

  • lo

    Yes! I saw the new list… and I, too, was heartbroken by the news about the blueberries. In fact, EWG rated them #31 in 2008 — and even wrote an article about how they were lower in pesticides than other berries (and so a good choice, even non-organic).

    Now I’m wondering if there’s any difference between the hybrid blueberries and those smaller berries, often labeled “wild”. If I’m remembering correctly, wild Blueberries are a species called “lowbush” Blueberries. Apparently they cannot be planted – they grow from a wild root system. Also they must be pollinated by bees… so anyone growing them would have to be somewhat invested in sustainable practices, no?

    Or am I just trying to see a bright spot?
    .-= lo´s last blog ..Spring Comfort Food: Mexican Bean Pot with Spinach & Chorizo =-.

    Katie Reply:

    Lo,
    Arg! My dad used to pick “huckleberries” which are wild blueberries. They are much smaller. Yum! I would guess they’re usually pretty sustainable, but who knows?
    Thanks for confirming my worries about the blueberries! :) Katie

  • Newlywed & Unemployed

    This is going to help my budget greatly. Thank you so much for sharing this info. And I’m so glad you’re on Facebook now! I held out until a month or so ago, but it hasn’t been as overwhelming as I thought it would be.
    .-= Newlywed & Unemployed´s last blog ..Evolution of a Bathroom =-.

  • Jen

    I would at most farmers markets, especially if I could ask them if they used pesticides, most growers who go to the farmers markets though don’t, so I would feel comfortable buying them there personally.

    I was wondering the same thing on the Clean 15 list :-)
    .-= Jen´s last blog ..Thoughts for Today =-.

    Jen Reply:

    I googled “clean 15, 2010 list” and KS was the first website on the list :-) Cool…….. but didn’t answer my question!

    A couple down I found a link that listed it. The Green Report or something
    .-= Jen´s last blog ..Thoughts for Today =-.

  • Stacy

    Thanks for letting us know about this. I am sure that you already know, but you can get the full list if you go to the foodnews.org so you can see just how far lettuce has fallen down the line. Unfortunately, they still have yet to update the list for 2010.

  • Stacy

    If you click on the “Shopper’s Guide to Pesticides” in the post above, you will get both the dirty dozen and the clean 15, or use this:
    http://www.foodnews.org/sneak/EWG-shoppers-guide.pdf .
    .-= Stacy´s last blog ..Have you checked out the new Simple Living Media sites? =-.

  • Gilliauna

    You know, I’ve just begun working on getting my family converted over to a more organic lifestyle and I have to tell you… this post was SO very helpful to me! Thank you so much!
    .-= Gilliauna´s last blog ..Artisan Jewelry $20 Store Credit Giveaway (Ends 5/8) =-.

  • JILL

    I see corn and sweet potatoes on the clean 15 list but what about GMOs? I have read in many places about non-organic corn almost always being GMO and recently read that sweet potatoes are too!

    Katie Reply:

    Jill,

    Good call! I don’t know that the EWG takes GMOs into consideration; I think this list is purely pesticides. We really just can’t win, can we? I wonder if sweet corn is also usually GMO or just commodity corn (that is made into processed ingredients). It’s a totally different type of corn, grown by different farms, usually. Good question! :) Katie

  • Baby steps towards Green « hybrid life

    [...] what is on the dirty dozen list and buying the organic [...]

  • All Things Eco Blog Carnival Volume One Hundred » Focus Organic.com

    [...] Kimball presents New 2010 Dirty Dozen Produce List Update Released by EWG posted at Kitchen [...]

  • jo

    hi katie
    thanks for your wondreful blog, i am fairly new to the NT way and you make it a lot less daunting! anyways, i am in melbourne australia and am wondering if these food lists are specific to the usa or whether they relate to the food here as well? thanks! jo

    Katie Reply:

    Jo,
    That is a really good question, and I’m not sure I know the answer. The research to make the list was conducted in the US, so I guess it would come down to whether or not the growing practices are similar with your food supply or not. I’m sure it’s at least a place to start!
    Thanks for coming along for the ride! ;) Katie

  • Katy

    I have looked and looked and can’t find oranges.. are they dirty or clean :)
    Thanks

    Katie Reply:

    Katy,
    If they’re not on either list, they must be…in the middle. ;) Generally fruits with such thick skins are “cleaner” because the skins protect the edible fruit from the sprays. You should still wash them first, because your hands are going right from the peel to the fruit, of course. Hope that helps! :) Katie

  • Chelle

    Hi! My first time to your site and very nice. :) I too was wondering about how it (EWG) states that the information collected is from data between 2000 and 2008. Really? Nothing new? How did they bump stuff around on the lists? Just by newer amounts of pesticides found? Hmm. It’s a never ending battle!
    .-= Chelle´s last blog ..Piggly Wiggly deal 6/9 – 6/15. =-.

    Katie Reply:

    Chelle,
    Welcome aboard! If you don’t mind a few unanswerable questions, you’ll love it here. ;) Katie

  • Teri @ Sustainability: How sustainable can we be?

    I don’t know about that clean list. Thanks to Monsanto there are certain things my family simply refuses to eat now. I must admit I miss corn. In fact I bought some at the farmers market and was so excited and had forgotten. Hubby through a fit and my BFF and her family really enjoyed that fresh corn on the cob!
    .-= Teri @ Sustainability: How sustainable can we be?´s last blog ..Fair time and crazy days - =-.

    Katie Reply:

    Teri,
    You can’t find organic corn at the Farmer’s Market? GMOs are one subject I haven’t done much research on…I hope I’m not abstaining from corn on the cob next year! That would make me so sad, too. The list is just pesticides, not GMOs, but you make a valid point. There’s more to watch out for than just chemicals nowadays. :) Katie

    Teri @ Sustainability: How sustainable can we be? Reply:

    there sure is. there is not any corn left that has not cross pollinated in some way with with Monsanto :( you really have to be careful.

    you would have to get some good old seed and pray it takes and plant it in the wilderness somewhere :(
    .-= Teri @ Sustainability: How sustainable can we be?´s last blog ..Fair time and crazy days - =-.

  • Miriam Levin

    Hello,
    My question is how do we handle the foods that are not included on the clean 15 or the dirty dozen? Always buy these in organic versions??
    Please advise,
    thanks,
    Miriam

    Katie Reply:

    Miriam,
    Welllllll…I buy whatever seems appropriate at the time, or frugal. Pray about it, if you’ve got a relationship with the big Guy! :) Katie

  • Where did my weekend go? « Delightful Taste Buds

    [...] right around the corner and I picked up a bag of organic apples. I know apple is one of the “Dirty Dozen” list but I’ve never bothered buying organic. But after I started going Primal/Paleo, [...]

  • Under a Red Roof · Bright Ideas for a Greener Earth

    [...] vinegars pictured here.  Organics are safer for human consumption, especially in the case of the “dirty dozen,” safer for farmers and their families, safer for our ever imperiled water supply, safer for the [...]

  • Organic Produce Getting Cheaper | Greensteading.org

    [...] eat healthy and natural organic produce but had to make some compromises.  We primarily stick to EWGs Dirty Dozen list religiously.  We always buy organic strawberries, peaches, celery and the other items on that [...]

  • Vicki

    There’s a new list out now (May 2011). They revise it every year. Apples are back on top – ugh! The “Dirty Dozen” and “Clean 15″ are just the best and worst of the list. Here is the complete:
    http://www.ewg.org/foodnews/list/

    Katie Reply:

    Thank you, Vicki – I missed the update! Looks like I need to write a new post… ;) Katie

  • You Know the Dirty Dozen … Or Do You? | Delicious Obsessions

    [...] Dozen list? I don’t, and the list changes, based on the most recent studies. In 2010, celery topped the list. In 2009, peaches held the number one spot. In 2011, it’s been apples who have held the title [...]

  • Savvy Gal Spotlight: Protecting Our Babies From Hazardous Toxins : The Savvy Gal

    [...] • Nutrition/Produce:  Buying completely organic can be very expensive for most households.  The Environmental Working Group has identified 12 fruits and vegetables that have the highest levels of pesticides.  This information can be found at http://www.kitchenstewardship.com/2010/04/29/2010-dirty-dozen-produce-list-released-by-the-ewg/ [...]

Welcome!  Meet Katie.

I embrace butter. I make homemade yogurt. I eat traditional real food – plants and animals that God created, not products of plants where food scientists work. Here at Kitchen Stewardship, I share how I strive to be a good steward of my family's nutrition, the environment, and our budget, all without spending every second in the kitchen. Learn more about the mission of KS here.

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