2016 Dirty Dozen: 10 Foods to Always Buy Organic

The EWG has released its 2016 Shopper’s Guide, ranking 50ápopular fruits and vegetablesáfor pesticides. These are the ones that top their list, plus more on how and why to reduce your pesticide exposure.

You might be familiar with the Environmental Working Group’s (EWG’s) Dirty Dozen and Clean Fifteen lists.áUpdated versions of those lists are also available (here and here).áThis shopper’s guide is a mega-list thatáincludes even more popular produce items.

The EWG has released its 2016 Shopper's Guide, ranking 50 popular fruits and vegetables for pesticides. These are the ones that top their list, plus more on how and why to reduce your pesticide exposure.

One thing that stands about about this year’s list is that they actually ranked 48 fruits and veggies, but the list has 50 items. That’sábecause they broke out blueberries and snap peas to distinguish betweenádomestic and imported versions.áTheir analysesárevealed very differentápesticide results, and they felt thatáseparating them was the best way to go.

It turns out that domestic blueberries are actually worse than imported ones. Domestic blueberries are 14th on the list, and imported blueberries are 19th. The same appliedáto snap peas. Domestic snap peas were ranked 28 out of 50 on their list, while imported snap peas were 13th.

You can view the list of all 50 rankings on the EWG website,áand check out the top 10 most pesticide-heavy crops below.

  1. strawberries
  2. apples
  3. nectarines
  4. peaches
  5. celery
  6. grapes
  7. cherries
  8. spinach
  9. tomatoes
  10. sweet bell peppers

These results, of course, don’t mean you should stop eatingáfruits and veggies. They are just a guide to help you decide which fruits and veggies are most important to buy organic.áThe lower on the list, the fewer pesticide residues they found.

If organic strawberries and apples are out of reach, for example, there are plenty of fruits toward the bottom of the list that are lower in pesticide residues when you buy conventional. Grapefruit, mango and kiwi are allátoward the bottom of the EWG list.

Why choose organic? There’s good evidence that people who eat more organic produce haveáfewer pesticides in their systems. A 2015 study from Boise State Universityálooked at 4,500 people’s diets and found that the peopleáwho reported eating more organic produce had fewer organophosphates in their systems.

Organophosphates are a common pesticide used in conventional agriculture that are bad news for our health, especially the health of young children. We’ve talkedáhere at Care2 before about how farmers exposed to high levels of organophosphates had higher rates of depression and suicide.áYou’re not going to reach that level of exposure by eatingástrawberries, but kids are much more sensitive to pesticides. A 2014 study linked exposure to organophosphates during pregnancy to increased risk of having a child with autism spectrum disorders. Organophosphates may also be linked to ADHD in children.

TheáEWG shopper’s guides have received some flack. Skeptics of the list say that the EWG calls out produce withápesticide levels far below the threshold for safety. However, if pesticide-free options are better overall for the planet, the farmers and our bodies, why not buy clean produce when you can?

Images via Thinkstock.


M. M.
M. M8 months ago


Siyus Copetallus
Siyus Copetallusabout a year ago

Thank you for sharing.

Jeffrey Stanley
Jeff Sabout a year ago


Sarah Hill
Sarah Hillabout a year ago


Quanta Kiran
Quanta Kiranabout a year ago


Mona Pietsch
Mona Pietschabout a year ago


Elena Poensgen
Elena Poensgenabout a year ago

Thank you

Veronica Danie
.about a year ago

Thank You!

federico bortoletto
federico bortolettoabout a year ago


Diana K.
Diana Kabout a year ago

Thanks for the info