The Environmental Working Group (EWG) evaluates fruits and vegetables to determine their overall pesticide exposure. The Dirty Dozen and Clean 15 help consumers prioritize foods that are most important to purchase organic when trying to limit pesticide exposure.
The lists are determined by evaluating six factors and scoring each item. The Dirty Dozen are the 12 fruits and vegetables with the highest pesticide loads. The Clean 15 are the 15 fruits and vegetables with the least pesticide residue.
The EWG also added a “plus” category to their Dirty Dozen to include select foods that contain trace amounts of highly hazardous pesticides. These don’t meet the traditional standards to be on the list yet are included as a plus due to insecticide contamination.
Dirty Dozen: (Always Choose Organic)
Dirty Dozen Plus:
- Hot Peppers
Clean 15: (Don't need to buy organic)
- Sweet Corn* - (most corn is now genetically modified)
- Sweet Peas Frozen
- Honeydew Melon
*NOTE: A small amount of papaya and summer squash sold in the United States is produced from genetically modified seeds. Buy organic varieties of these crops if you want to avoid genetically modified produce.
This is the most up-to-date list for 2020. Please be sure to check the EWG website www.ewg.org/foodnews/ regularly for annual updates to these lists.