Every year, the Environmental Working Group (EWG) releases its Shopper’s Guide to Pesticides in Produce which spearheads the phenomenon known as ‘The Clean 15’ and ‘The Dirty Dozen’ lists. Also true in 2023!

These two lists provide shoppers with an idea of which fruits and vegetables pack the most pesticides and which are relatively pesticide-free – a great way to save money on produce without sacrificing nutritional value.

The Clean 15 and Dirty Dozen 2023

For many people, organic fruits and vegetables just aren’t within reach. Whether it’s the cost or a lack of access to a reliable grocery store that stocks these fresher options, there are plenty of obstacles standing in the way of buying organic.

(Not to mention all the packaging and labels to decipher—it can feel overwhelming!)

While organic food can provide a much healthier option for those looking to fill their plates with nutritious foods — the amount of barriers between them and organic can mean it often falls by the wayside. And that’s unfortunate!

The Clean 15 and Dirty Dozen Varies…

Of course, the Clean 15 and Dirty Dozen lists vary slightly from year to year as new produce items are tested and old items are re-tested.

However, some key items, like avocados, sweet corn, pineapples, cabbage, onions and frozen sweet peas can always be counted of being part of the crop of clean eats. Good to know!

Anyway you look at it, the Clean 15 and Dirty Dozen lists are essential resources for health-conscious individuals who want to prioritize their spending when it comes to organic food.

The Lists: Clean 15 and The Dirty Dozen 2023

The Clean 15:

  1. Avocados
  2. Sweet corn
  3. Pineapple
  4. Onions
  5. Papaya
  6. Sweet peas (frozen)
  7. Asparagus
  8. Honeydew melon
  9. Kiwi
  10. Cabbage
  11. Mushrooms
  12. Mangoes
  13. Sweet Potatoes
  14. Watermelon
  15. Carrots
The Clean 15 - Avocados

The Dirty Dozen:

  1. Strawberries
  2. Spinach
  3. Kale, collard and mustard greens
  4. Peaches
  5. Pears
  6. Nectarines
  7. Apples
  8. Grapes
  9. Bell and hot peppers
  10. Cherries
  11. Blueberries
  12. Green Beans

Celery and tomatoes off the Dirty list in 2023…

That brings up the question, is it okay now to eat the vegetable or fruit that was removed from last year’s list?

Every year brings a new versions of the Clean 15 and Dirty Dozen lists, and for us health-conscious consumers, it’s always a time for reflection.

We have learned to accept that the USDA recommends avoiding foods on these lists because they’ve been shown to typically have higher levels of pesticides. Yet we can’t help but wonder what has changed from year-to-year.

Are we safer now than before in terms of consuming these food items?

Not really! They may have moved down but not necessarily off the naughty list!

It can be tricky to keep up with what is considered safe and what is not, which is why staying informed on dietary regulations is vital.

Ultimately, it’s best to remain mindful when it comes to what you eat – the Clean 15 and Dirty Dozen lists may come and go, but your personal health stays with you forever.

Dirty Dozen - pesticides

Warning: Kids and Pesticide Residues

There’s a growing awareness that our everyday food is not necessarily safe to consume. They can have residues of pesticides and other dangerous chemicals contaminating many of the fruits and vegetables we purchase.

The debate around the dangers posed by the use of pesticides in store bought produce is heating up; particularly for those who are most vulnerable, our kids.

Are the risks more pronounced for children than adults?

The latest studies suggest that the toxins in pesticides can build up in a child’s developing body faster and with more adverse effects than in an adult’s.

This means that kids could be at an increased health risk from ingesting pesticide-laden produce often available straight from our grocery stores.

Whether you have children or not, this is something worth considering as part of your shopping decisions.

What about washing fruits and veggies?

We are often told of several ways to “rinse” or “wash” our produce before consuming, but is it effective?

For example: (And, please do not take this next part out of context! I do not agree with the following paraphrased text from original sources.)

If you want to make sure that your fruits and veggies are pesticide free you need an effective way of washing them off. So what’s the most effective way?…

Fill your sink with lukewarm water and add a teaspoon of baking soda. Then give your apples, tomatoes or whatever it is you’re cleaning, a good soak for two minutes before rinsing thoroughly under cold running water. Not only is this method super effective, but it’s also cheap, environmentally friendly and requires ingredients that you can find in most pantries!

While washing them off may seem like a good solution, there’s evidence to suggest that it’s not as effective as we might want to think. (Including me!)

Studies have shown that rinsing or washing is often ineffective in removing surface contaminants, and in some cases, may even spread them further into edible parts.

No washing method is 100% effective for removing all pesticide residues. Period.

This is why, for the ultimate peace of mind safety-wise, it’s best to seek out organically grown produce which tend to be significantly lower in all those risky substances!

Why Organic Needs to Replace the Dirty Dozen?

While the “Clean 15” can be purchased without the “organic price tag” charged in stores, the “Dirty Dozen” should be avoided and replaced with organic whenever possible.

Organic fruits and vegetables offer a cornucopia of health benefits.

Organic foods are they naturally free of pesticides, hormones, or additives.

Moreover they also contain more minerals and vitamins than the conventional counterparts that are mass-produced and routinely sprayed with chemicals.

These nutrient-dense organic plants have been found to reduce one’s risk of chronic illnesses like cancer, arthritis, diabetes, and heart disease.

Our food has more to offer than just taste and nutrition.

Unfortunately, some foods may be packed with pesticides and other chemical residue.

Consuming these substances can lead to a number of health problems, ranging from minor headaches to serious illnesses such as cancer, as mentioned above. Additionally, they can also lead to reproductive issues, neurological damages, or even asthma.

It’s easy for us to overlook something that we cannot see or smell in our food – but the long-term impacts on our well-being should not be underestimated.

Eating healthy and organic products is the key to minimizing exposure to pesticides and other harmful chemicals in our diets.

Even all else aside, the premium flavor of organic foods gives them the hard-earned reputation as a delicious way to stay healthy.

Eating organic can be thought of as investing in one’s physical well-being for the long run.

Eat Natural Whole Clean Foods

Eating a diet comprised of natural, whole foods can truly be a transformative experience.

By eating foods closest to their natural form, you are ingesting all the nutrition and nourishment these sources have to offer, enabling your body to run as efficiently as possible.

Whole foods provide you with the right balance of carbohydrates, protein, vitamins and minerals that help optimize your overall health. In so doing, giving you more energy and helping support brain activity, organ health, digestion and much more.

When it comes to promoting optimal health, think fresh: unrefined whole grain starches, lean proteins and plenty of colorful fruits and vegetables – in their natural forms – is the perfect foundation for a nutritious diet that stokes your physical and mental well-being.

Imagine No Clean 15 or Dirty Dozen Lists Being Necessary…

Could you imagine a world where shopping for organic produce was as commonplace as popping to the store for milk?

Many believe that if more people showed their commitment to sustainable lifestyles by buying organic food, the cost of these products would come crashing down.

Sadly, ever-increasing demand can and will lead to an increase in prices so, if we all truly got behind organic food, it would be no surprise that rivals start clamoring for our attention with better and cheaper offers.

Imagine how amazing it would be if … one day we could pick up a delicious clean pint of blueberries without the worry about how much it’s costing us!

A better future is possible if we show our dedication to it.

Shopping organic is a sign to the industry that demand is on the rise.

So what are you waiting for?