Most everyone desires to purchase the most nutritious and safe food that’s available. And most of us understand that organically grown foods provide nutrient-dense and safer fruits and vegetables. Unfortunately, organic produce is more costly, and for many families, a real stretch for their food budget. EWG’s Dirty Dozen and Clean Fifteen – 2020 Vegetable and Fruit List, also known as the Shopper’s Guide to Pesticides in Produce™, is now available for 2020.
EWG (Environmental Working Group) analyzed pesticide residue testing data from the U.S. Department of Agriculture and Food and Drug Administration to come up with rankings for the following popular fresh produce items. All foods are listed below are from worst to best – lower numbers indicate more pesticides.
EWG Dirty Dozen and Clean Fifteen – 2020 Vegetables and Fruits
2020 Dirty Dozen Vegetables and Fruits
- Strawberries *
+ Hot Peppers
*According to the EWG, Americans eat nearly eight pounds of fresh strawberries a year. Strawberry growers use jaw-dropping volumes of poisonous gases – some developed for chemical warfare but now banned by the Geneva Conventions – to sterilize their fields before planting, killing every pest, weed, and other living things in the soil. If you want to avoid pesticides and don’t want strawberries grown in soil injected with nerve gases, EWG suggests to always purchase berries grown organically. We at OAWHealth.com make the same recommendation for other Dirty Dozen™ foods.
Importance of Reducing Pesticide Exposure in Fruits and Vegetables
According to the peer-reviewed journal Nutrients, consuming organic food lowers pesticide exposure and is correlated to a list of health benefits. In four unrelated clinical trials, those who switched from conventional to organic foods experienced a swift and substantial reduction in their urinary pesticide concentrations — a marker of pesticide exposure. Other research links eating more organic foods to lowering of urinary pesticide levels, enhanced fertility and birth outcomes, lowered incidence of non-Hodgkin lymphoma, and lower BMI.
Harvard University researchers used USDA test data and methods similar to the EWG’s to classify fruits and vegetables as having high or low pesticides. Impressively, their lists of high and low pesticide crops largely overlap with the EWG’s Dirty Dozen and Clean Fifteen Lists.
The American Academy of Pediatrics issued a critical report, in 2012, indicating that children have “unique susceptibilities to [pesticide residues’] potential toxicity.” The academy provided research that linked pesticide exposures in early life to pediatric cancers, less cognitive function and behavioral issues. It told its members to advise parents to ask “reliable resources that provide information on the relative pesticide content of various fruits and vegetables.” A vital resource it cited was EWG’s Shopper’s Guide to Pesticides in Produce.
2020 Clean Fifteen™ Vegetables and Fruits
Now for the good news. Below are the 202o clean fifteen vegetables and fruits that do not necessarily need to be purchased organically. However, I still encourage you to shop your local farmers’ markets and support locally grown vegetables and fruits.
- Sweet Corn
- Sweet Peas (frozen)
- Honey Dew Melon
The Environmental Working Group’s analysis of the most recent USDA data found the produce above had the lowest amounts of pesticide residues. Important findings are:
- Avocados and sweet corn were the cleanest. Fewer than 2 percent of samples showed any detectable pesticides
- Except for cabbage, all other products on the Clean Fifteen tested positive for four or fewer pesticides.
- Almost 70 percent of Clean Fifteen fruit and vegetable samples had no pesticide residues.
- Various pesticide residues are extremely rare on Clean Fifteen vegetables. Only 7 percent of Clean Fifteen fruit and vegetable samples had two or more pesticides.
Exposure to toxic herbicides and pesticides is high is some fruits and vegetables. Being aware of this is essential to your family’s health and well-being. While buying organic is not always possible, one can at least make the best choices for their particular situation by using the EWG Dirty Dozen and Clean Fifteen – 2020 List.
As Americans try to adjust to the new reality of daily life during the COVID-19 pandemic, it’s vital to understand that currently, there is no evidence of exposure to people through food. The spread pattern for COVID-19 is very different from foodborne pathogens such as E.coli and salmonella. That is why, even though the risks of COVID-19 are serious, consumers should continue to consume plenty of healthy fruits and vegetables, with organic being the preference, and conventional being better than not consuming these all-important nutrient-dense foods.
Research and References
USDA, Pesticide Data Program. Agricultural Marketing Service. www.ams.usda.gov/datasets/pdp.
Vigar, V., et al., A Systematic Review of Organic Versus Conventional Food Consumption: Is There a Measurable Benefit on Human Health? Nutrients, 2020; 12(1), 7. DOI: https://doi.org/10.3390/nu12010007. https://www.mdpi.com/2072-6643/12/1/7/htm.
Papadopoulou, E., et al., Diet as a Source of Exposure to Environmental Contaminants for Pregnant Women and Children from Six European Countries. Environmental Health Perspectives, 2019; 127(10). DOI: https://doi.org/10.1289/EHP5324. https://ehp.niehs.nih.gov/doi/full/10.1289/EHP5324.
Chiu, Y.H., et al., Association Between Pesticide Residue Intake from Consumption of Fruits and Vegetables and Pregnancy Outcomes Among Women Undergoing Infertility Treatment With Assistance Reproductive Technology. JAMA Internal Medicine, 2018. DOI: 10.1001/amainternmed.2017.5038. http://jamanetwork.com/journals/jamainternalmedicine/article-abstract/2659557.
American Academy of Pediatrics, Organic Foods: Health and Environmental Advantages and Disadvantages. American Academy of Pediatrics Committee on Nutrition and Council on Environmental Health, 2012; e1406 -e1415. DOI: 10.1542/peds.2012-2579. https://pediatrics.aappublications.org/content/130/5/e1406.
Loretta Lanphier is a Naturopathic Practitioner (Traditional), Certified Clinical Nutritionist, Holistic Health Practitioner, and Certified Clinical Herbalist as well as the CEO / Founder of Oasis Advanced Wellness in The Woodlands TX. A 20-year stage 3 colon cancer survivor, Loretta is able to relate to both-sides-of-the-health-coin as patient and practitioner when it comes to health and wellness. “My passion is counseling others about what it takes to keep the whole body healthy using natural and non-toxic methods.” Read Loretta’s health testimony Cancer: The Path to Healing. Loretta is Contributor and Editor of the worldwide E-newsletter Advanced Health & Wellness.
†Results may vary. Information and statements made are for education purposes and are not intended to replace the advice of your doctor. Oasis Advanced Wellness/OAWHealth/Loretta Lanphier, NP does not dispense medical advice, prescribe, or diagnose illness. The views and nutritional advice expressed by Oasis Advanced Wellness/OAWHealth are not intended to be a substitute for conventional medical service. If you have a severe medical condition or health concern, see your physician of choice.