Pesticide Guide: The Dirty Dozen and The Clean Fifteen

Are you interested in lowering pesticide exposure in your diet but you aren’t sure where to start? The Environmental Working Group, a non-profit organization that advocates for policies that protect global and individual health has produced a guide that can help you get started. Based on the analysis of 87,000 tests for pesticides on the 47 most popular fruits and vegetables, the EWG has found that people can lower their pesticide exposure by almost 80 percent by avoiding the top twelve most contaminated fruits and vegetables and eating the least contaminated instead.

The Shopper’s Guide to Pesticides contains the latest and most up to date information about which fruits and vegetables have the highest residues on them and therefore should only be consumed certified organic. It also gives you insight into which fruits and vegetables are on the lower end of the spectrum, making them safer to buy conventionally grown. There is a common misconception that rinsing and/or peeling fruits and vegetables will remove pesticide residues. In nearly all the studies used to make this list, the produce was tested after it had been rinsed or peeled.

Every year, new research is published confirming the toxicity of pesticides to human health and the environment. Certified organic fruits and vegetables are by definition grown without the use of pesticides but some find that the expense of buying all their produce organic is prohibitive. Eating organic doesn’t need to be an all or nothing approach. The “Dirty Dozen” has the highest pesticide load, making them the most important to buy or grown organic. The “Clean 15” has the lowest pesticide load making them the safest conventionally grown crops to consume.

The following list is a summary of the Environmental Working Group’s pesticide wallet guide that you can carry with you to the grocery store until you become more familiar with which produce is safer to buy organic:

Dirty Dozen – Buy These Organic

  1. Peach
  2. Apple
  3. Bell Pepper
  4. Celery
  5. Nectarines
  6. Strawberries
  7. Cherries
  8. Kale
  9. Lettuce
  10. Grapes (Imported)
  11. Carrot
  12. Pear

Clean 15 – Lowest in Pesticides

  1. Onion
  2. Avocado
  3. Sweet Corn
  4. Pineapple
  5. Mango
  6. Asparagus
  7. Sweet Peas
  8. Kiwi
  9. Cabbage
  10. Eggplant
  11. Papaya
  12. Watermelon
  13. Broccoli
  14. Tomato
  15. Sweet Potato


Crystal Di Domizio

Crystal Di Domizio received her Registered Holistic Nutritionist designation from the Canadian School of Natural Nutrition. Her combined passion for nutrition, pregnancy and birth lead to her continued studies as a Birth Doula. She is the founder of Cultivate Your Health and Living Gluten-Free Community. Crystal’s philosophy towards holistic nutrition and birth is based on the understanding that our bodies have the inborn knowledge and ability to maintain their own health. We can honor our body’s natural wisdom by providing it with the raw materials it needs to work with through whole, unrefined foods. Crystal’s knowledge and expertise enables her to identify the nutritional causes of dis-ease and can help guide you on your path to wellness. She is dedicated to teaching you how to combine the nutritional, physical, emotional and spiritual components of your life to promote healing and well being on all levels.