Pesticides and preservatives have infiltrated their way into almost all the food consumed in America and can store in the body’s fat, including the brain, for years. Industrial wastes have permeated our ground water and can enter our body simply by washing our organic veggies with tap water. Over time these stored chemicals undermine our immunity, render us susceptible to disease, infection and premature aging.

Recently, The Environmental Working Group released the 2011 edition of its Shopper’s Guide to Pesticides in Produce with updated information on fruits and vegetables and their total pesticide loads. EWG highlights the worst offenders with its “Dirty Dozen” list and the cleanest conventional produce with its “Clean 15” list.

Don’t miss out on your chance to learn which fruits and vegetables have the most pesticides, plus the ones that are generally safe even if not organic.


1. The Dirty Dozen – Twelve fruits and veggies that you should try to avoid or to eat organic.

2. The Clean Fifteen – A list of clean veggies that are mostly safe to eat even if they are not organic.

The FDA tells us that all non-organic fruits and veggies have safe and harmless levels of pesticides, while The President’s Cancer Panel recommends consumers eat produce without pesticides to reduce the risk of cancer and disease.
The Dirty Dozen list takes washing and peeling into account. Washing is important to remove bacteria but obviously has little effect on removing pesticides since there can still be chemicals internally. If you are going to buy any of the fruits or veggies listed in The Dirty Dozen we highly recommend buying only organic.

Pesticides can be extremely toxic to human health and the environment. U.S. and international government agencies alike have linked pesticides to nervous system toxicity, cancer, hormone system disruption and IQ deficits among children.
Pesticides are toxic. They’re designed to kill bugs, it’s hard to believe that any amount is safe. Their effects can be associated with a host of very serious health problems in people, including neurological deficits, ADHD, endocrine system disruption and cancer. *


12 Most Contaminated

  • Peaches: These are delicately skinned fruits in conventional orchards.

As many as 62 pesticides  Safer alternatives: watermelon, tangerines, oranges, and grapefruit.

  • Apples:

Up to 42 different pesticides.  Safer alternatives: watermelon, bananas, tangerines

  • Sweet Bell Peppers:

Peppers have thin skins that don’t offer much of a barrier to pesticides.

Tests have found 49 different pesticides. 
(Plus They’re often heavily sprayed with insecticides.)  Safer alternatives: green peas, broccoli, and cabbage.

  • Celery:

Has no protective skin, which makes it almost impossible to wash off the chemicals .  Up to 64 pesticides.  Safer alternatives: broccoli, radishes, onions

  • Nectarines:

They rank up there with apples and peaches among the dirtiest tree fruit.

33 different pesticides found.  Safer alternatives: watermelon, papaya, mango

  • Strawberries:

They’re most likely imported from countries that have less-stringent regulations for pesticide use.  59 pesticides have been detected in residue on strawberries.  Safer alternatives: kiwi, pineapples

  • Cherries
  • Pears
  • Grapes (Imported):

Imported grapes run a much greater risk of contamination than those grown domestically, only imported grapes make the Dirty Dozen list.  34 different pesticides.  Safer alternatives: kiwi, raspberries.

  • Spinach:

One of the most contaminated green leafy vegetable.  As many 48 different pesticides.  Best to buy organic.

  • Lettuce:

Another delicate, thin-skinned, leafy green vegetable.

Up to 51 different pesticide residues.  Buy organic whenever possible

  • Potatoes

To ensure that you and your family are safe and healthy, eat organic whenever possible. The Clean Fifteen are fruits and vegetables that are considered safe by the EWG to eat even when not organic. If you simply shift to eating more from the Clean Fifteen list, you will at least have a measurable drop in your pesticide consumption levels.

All the produce on “The Clean 15” bore little to no traces of pesticides, and is safe to consume in non-organic form.

12 Least Contaminated

  • Onions
  • Avocado
  • Sweet Corn (Frozen)
  • Pineapples
  • Mango
  • Asparagus
  • Sweet Peas (Frozen)
  • Kiwi Fruit
  • Bananas
  • Cabbage
  • Broccoli
  • Papaya

Why do some types of produce have more pesticides than others, you ask? If you eat something like a pineapple or sweet corn, they have a protection defense because of the outer layer of skin. Not the same for strawberries and berries. In general, thin-skinned fruits and vegetables are more prone to absorbing the pesticides.

The President’s Cancer Panel recommends washing conventionally grown produce to remove any residues. It won’t remove all the pesticides (because some are already absorbed), but you should still wash it to reduce pesticide exposure.

Choosing five servings from (“Clean 15”) of 15 least contaminated fruits and vegetables would result in consuming fewer than two pesticides per day. If you instead pick five servings of fruits and vegetables from the 12 (“dirty dozen”) most-contaminated products, it would result in consuming an approximate average of 14 different pesticides a day at unknown concentrations.

That said, if you can’t always buy organic due to your personal budget, it’s still better to eat fruits and vegetables than not at all. You could pick your favorite and buy that one organic. If you love apples, for example, consider according to USDA, pesticides showed up on 98 percent of the more than 700 apple samples tested. It’s possible that what’s happening to apples is more pesticides and fungicides are being applied after the harvest so the fruit can have a longer shelf life. So, buy organic, local apples.

Source: Dr. John Douillard DC (

1. EWG, Environmental Working Group
2. CNN: “Toxic America” May 31, 2010
3. What’s on my food (

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