The Environmental Working Group has released its “Dirty Dozen,” an annual list that ranks conventional fruits and vegetables according to their degree of pesticide contamination. For the second straight year, apples top the list, and for the most part, this year’s list represents a reordering more than anything else. The only new addition to the list is cucumbers. While kale/collards have fallen off the list, they are included along with green beans in a new section for produce that didn’t meet the Dirty Dozen criteria, but were of special concern anyway because they were frequently contaminated with organophosphate insecticides, which are harmful to the nervous system.
The EWG arrives at its rankings by examining data taken from USDA examinations of samples that in most cases had been washed and peeled. The fruits and vegetables were measured according to the percent of samples that showed the presence of pesticides, the percent with more than one pesticide, the average number of pesticides found on a single sample, the average amount of all pesticides, the maximum number of pesticides found on a single sample, and the total number of pesticides found on a sample.
So, what does this mean for consumers? The Environmental Working Group recommends that consumers reduce their pesticide exposure by buying organic as an alternative to the conventional crops on the list, and in our family we make a reasonable effort to heed the list and go organic when possible, especially when it comes to the Dirty Dozen.
And without further ado, here is your 2012 Dirty Dozen.
3. Sweet bell peppers
11. Blueberries- domestic
PLUS (high in organophosphate insecticides)
1. Collard greens
2. Green beans
Think organic is too expensive? Here are some ways to buy organic on a budget.
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