The Best Bang For Your Organic Buck: Cleanest & Dirtiest Produce

An apple a day may … increase cancer rates and cause Parkinson’s disease?

That isn’t the classic phrase. However, pesticides are rewriting the rules on health. Non-organic apples can contain up to 42 different toxic pesticides. In fact, Europe recently banned America’s apples because their toxins pose such dramatic health risks.

Many of you might already know about the infamous toxins in conventional apples. How about the other 50 fruits and vegetables most commonly consumed? We want to know what’s in those, too — which is why the Environmental Working Group (EWG) provides a detailed and revised pesticide guide every year.

Thanks to this pesticide map below you’ll know when to spend the extra effort and dime on your food.

The “Dirty Dozen” List, or foods with the highest pesticide ranking:

1. Apples
2. Strawberries
3. Grapes
4. Celery
5. Peaches
6. Spinach
7. Sweet bell peppers
8. Nectarines (imported)
9. Cucumbers
10. Cherry tomatoes
11. Snap peas (imported)
12. Potatoes

The “Dirty Dozen Plus” includes:

Hot peppers
Kale/collard greens
And the fruits and veggies with the least pesticides (the “Clean Fifteen”) are:

The “Clean Fifteen” List, or foods with the lowest pesticide ranking:

1. Avocados
2. Sweet corn
3. Pineapples
4. Cabbage
5. Sweet peas (frozen)
6. Onions
7. Asparagus
8. Mangos
9. Papayas
10. Kiwi
11. Eggplant
12. Grapefruit
13. Cantaloupe
14. Cauliflower
15. Sweet potatoes

Remember that one time Congress demanded the EPA provide consumers with crucial pesticide information? The EPA’s memory seems a little fuzzy. They provided general pesticide information three years later. What they didn’t do: reveal to consumers where pesticides are actually found. Thankfully, the Environmental Working Group picked up the EPA’s slack by publishing the annual Shopper’s Guide, which details the most and least toxic-laden produce.

Keep reading for EWG’s complete list of 51 pieces of produce ranked from worst to best on the pesticide scale.

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The lower the number, the more pesticides. The higher the number, the less pesticides.

#1= Most Toxic

#51= Least Toxic

1. Apples
2. Strawberries
3. Grapes
4. Celery
5. Peaches
6. Spinach
7. Sweet Bell Peppers
8. Nectarines – Imported
9. Cucumbers
10. Cherry Tomatoes
11. Snap Peas – Imported
12. Potatoes
13. Hot Peppers
14. Blueberries – Domestic
15. Lettuce
16. Kale/Collared Greens
17. Plums
18. Cherries
19. Nectarines – Domestic
20. Pears
21. Tangerines
22. Carrots
23. Blueberries – Imported
24. Green Beans
25. Winter Squash
26. Summer Squash
27. Raspberries
28. Broccoli
29. Snap Peas – Domestic
30. Green Onions
31. Oranges
32. Bananas
33. Tomatoes
34. Watermelon
35. Honeydew
36. Mushrooms
37. Sweet Potatoes
38. Cauliflower
39. Cantaloupe
40. Grapefruit
41. Eggplant
42. Kiwi
43. Papayas
44. Mangoes
45. Asparagus
46. Onions
48. Cabbage
49. Pineapples
50. Sweet Corn
51. Avocados


Janice Thompson
Janice Thompson2 years ago

I'll keep on sharing during this battle.

Janice Thompson
Janice Thompson2 years ago

The rules keep changing. Oh woe is me...

Debbie Crowe
Debbie Crowe2 years ago

I didn't see regular vine grown tomatoes on either list. I am just craving them right now!!

Charmaine C.
Charmaine C2 years ago

Pardon the double post but I have found a list for fruit and veg for the UK. If anyone needs to look at this it can be found at : .....look for Pesticides on a plate.

Charmaine C.
Charmaine C2 years ago

I wonder if there is such a list for the UK? Thanks for the information. It's depressing how much pesticide is on the food we eat.

Heidi Aubrey
Heidi Aubrey3 years ago

I knew about the tree fruit, and berries as well as the leafy greens. I was surprised to see winter squash in the middle of the list. I love Butternut Squash. I thought as long as it was thick skinned and peeled prior to eating/cooking, it would be okay.

The EWG tests the fruit/vegetable AFTER thoroughly washing and rinsing the fruit/vegetable.

That's right! These pesticides are what shows up in the edible part of the product AFTER washing and rinsing.

By the way, if you have never eaten an organic cucumber, you will never go back to a conventionally grown one after you do eat an organic. Yes. It really is that big a taste difference. Same with pears.

Karen SICK3 years ago

Thank you for sharing.

James Maynard
James Maynard3 years ago

Thanks for posting the full

Melania Padilla
Melania Padilla3 years ago

Own your own, or as I do with some I buy from neighbors :)

holly masih
h masih3 years ago

grow your own