2015 Dirty Dozen and Clean Fifteen: Know Your Produce

Is buying organic really the healthiest way to eat produce? Sometimes yes, but sometimes surprisingly, no.† The “Dirty Dozen” and “Clean Fifteen” lists of 2015 can help you decide what fruits and veggies have the least amount of pesticides ó organic or not.

Every year the Environmental Working Group (EWG) provides a Shopper’s Guide to Pesticides in Produce with the intention of helping consumers decide whether buying†organic is in their best interest. Despite a huge spike in the U.S. organic food sector in recent years, conventional produce industries are sticking to their dirty ways. Pesticides can be found on produce even after being washed — and sometimes peeled.

Key Findings from the EWG:

  • 99 percent of apples, 98 percent of peaches and 97 percent of nectarines tested positive for at least one pesticide.
  • The average potato had more pesticides by weight than any other produce.
  • A single grape sample and a sweet bell pepper sample contained 15 pesticides.
  • Single samples of cherry tomatoes, nectarines, peaches, imported snap peas and strawberries showed 13 different pesticides apiece.

“Dirty Dozen,” fruits and veggies with the most pesticides

1. Apples
2. Peaches
3. Nectarines
4. Strawberries
5. Grapes
6. Celery
7. Spinach
8. Sweet Bell Peppers
9. Cucumbers
10. Cherry Tomatoes
11. Snap Peas (Imported)
12. Potatoes

Additionally, hot peppers, kale and collard greens were “frequently found to be contaminated with insecticides toxic to the human nervous system.”

Pesticides have been linked to health issues such as brain and nervous system toxicity, cancer, and hormone disruption. However, the EWG claims that the benefits of a diet rich in fruits and vegetables far outweigh the risks of pesticide exposure. Luckily, we don’t have to choose.

Key Findings from the EWG:

  • Avocados were the cleanest: only 1 percent of avocado samples showed any detectable pesticides.
  • Some 89 percent of pineapples, 82 percent of kiwi, 80 percent of papayas, 88 percent of mango and 61 percent of cantaloupe had no residues.
  • No single fruit sample from the Clean Fifteen tested positive for more than 4 types of pesticides.

The “Clean Fifteen,” fruits and veggies with the least amount of pesticides…

1. Avocados
2. Sweet Corn
3. Pineapples
4. Cabbage
5. Sweet Peas (frozen)
6. Onions
7. Asparagus
8. Mangoes
9. Papayas
10. Kiwi
11. Eggplant
12. Grapefruit
13. Cantaloupe
14. Cauliflower
15. Sweet Potatoes

In a world where we have to worry about ingesting harmful chemicals along with our “healthy” fruits and vegetables, at least we have the resources that help reveal to us the transparency of our purchases. And, we can take comfort in the fact that now we have a reason to eat more avocados.


Diane Wayne
Diane Wayne9 months ago

Important to know

Joanne p.
Joanne pabout a year ago


Jeanne Rogers
Jeanne Rabout a year ago

Thank you for sharing.

Lisa Hofmann
Lisa H1 years ago

This list really startles me. What I'd like to know further is what help washing our fruits and veggies is. I've always been told water is sufficient - is this still the case with GMOs so prevalent? I shop local as much as possible.

Also of note - these lists came out more than one year ago. Where are the lists for 2016???

Mark Vaughan
Mark Vaughan1 years ago

A helpful list.

Brett Cloud
Brett Cloud1 years ago

You should note in the article, if you are republishing from year 20XX or updating from year 20ZZ for the new year.

Brett Cloud
Brett Cloud1 years ago

Saved it on my PC. To those who said this is an American list and of no use to me, if you have ANY of the fruits and/or vegetables on these lists, it will be of use to you. The US is a major exporter.

Melanie Simon
Melanie Simon1 years ago

Will keep this in mind

V V.
V V2 years ago

Interesting to know. Thanks!

Patrice Z.
Patrice Z2 years ago

Great information. Thanks!