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Breaking Down "The Dirty Dozen"

Breaking Down "The Dirty Dozen"


At SCNM, we are HUGE advocates of eating fresh fruits and vegetables.  The health benefits of making produce a major part of your diet are practically innumerable.  Produce is low in calories and contains essential nutrients such as vitamin C, folate, potassium, fiber, vitamin A and many more.  Diets that are rich in fruits and vegetables aid in weight loss and protect against heart disease.

We could write all day about why you should eat fruits and vegetables, but in this article we want to discuss "The Dirty Dozen."  No, not the movie; we are talking about the list of most pesticide-laden fruits and vegetables.  This list is compiled by the Environmental Working Group (EWG) to advise consumers about which produce products they should be buying organic.  In an ideal world, we could all exclusively buy just organic food, but buying organic is typically more expensive.  If you need to prioritize what produce you absolutely should buy organic, start with the Dirty Dozen list.



Certain samples of strawberries showed up to 20 different pesticides!  Specifically, fungicide is often used due to the fruit's vulnerability to fungi attack. 


Spinach samples contained double the amount of pesticide residue by weight than any other food on the list.  Pesticides, insecticides and fungicides were all found.  


At least one pesticide was found on almost all samples of nectarines tested.  


Many apples tested contain up to 6 pesticides that are known or probable carcinogens.


Peach samples often contain numerous chemicals that are hormone disruptors and neurotoxins.


The amount of pesticide residues found on pears has more than doubled since 2010.


Cherries that were tested contained up to 8 developmental/reproductive toxins.


The numerous pesticides on grapes make their way into grape products such as wine.  Both domestic and imported grapes contain similar pesticide levels.


Despite being ranked as high as #1 in prior years, celery still contains a dangerous amount of pesticides.


Tomatoes make the list, but if you grow your own you can use safe, homemade insecticides to protect them. 

Bell Peppers

Bell peppers were found to be especially high in hormone disruptors and honeybee toxins.


Potatoes are a newcomer to the list as of 2017.  Be sure to start buying organic forms of this common food.

Avoid purchasing these products if they are non-organic.  While organic produce may be a bit more expensive, it is worth it for your long term health.

If you want to learn more about nutrition and healthy living, contact the SCNM Medical Center.