NYS Certified Nutritionist

The Dirty Dozen

For years I have been a fan of the Environmental Working Group [EWG], a non-profit organization whose mission is to inform the public about the toxic substances in our foods, and environment. Moreover, this organization lobbies our government to promote regulations that result in safer foods, water, and air. Fearless in the face of mega-corporations, the EWG also pressures these entities to clean up their business models, to make our world a safer place for all its inhabitants…humans, animals, insects, plants, and microbes.

One of the services provided by the EWG is an annual evaluation of the pesticide residue in our produce. This research results in a list called The Dirty Dozen. The following is the 2024 list of the 12 most contaminated fruits and vegetables: strawberries, spinach, kale [collards & mustard greens], grapes, peaches, pears, nectarines, apples, bell [and hot] peppers, cherries, blueberries, and green beans.

My suggestion is, when shopping for any produce item on the list of those most contaminated with toxins, purchase those organically grown as the first choice. There are products one can use to clean vegetables and fruits, submerging them in sinks, or large pots of cold water, and rinsing well. Some people add vinegar to large pots of water to remove some of the dirt residue from organic [and non-organic] produce. I also suggest going to the EWG website, https://www.ewg.org, and read their guidelines for safer eating.

Happily, the EWG also produces a list providing cleaner alternatives called the Clean 15. Selecting the following clean options is a better choice than non-organic items on the Dirty Dozen list. The safer 15 are: avocados, sweet corn, pineapples, onions, papayas, sweet peas, asparagus, honeydew melons, kiwis, cabbage, watermelons, mushrooms, mangoes, sweet potatoes, and carrots. Although the items on the clean list contain fewer pesticide, fungicide, and herbicide residues, they must still be cleaned thoroughly before eating or cooking.

I am grateful to the Environmental Working Group for their service to consumers trying to make the best choices for themselves, and their families.

Dateline: Town of Colonie, Albany County, New York State’s Capital Region