The Dirty Dozen and the Clean Fifteen
Each year the non-profit, non-partisan Environmental Working Group (EWG), based in the United States, test hundreds of fruit and vegetables for pesticide residue.
They then produce two lists to help guide consumers who want to avoid pesticides on their produce, the Dirty Dozen, being those products found to have the most pesticide remaining; and the Clean Fifteen, listing produce with the least amount of contaminants.
The EWG has been ranking fresh produce and publishing these lists since 2004.
While conventional farming practices in Australia may vary slightly to the United States, it is still a very useful list. Consider that quite a number of fruit and vegetables are also imported into Australia.
The best way to avoid all pesticides of course is to buy organic.
In conventional farming, pesticides are used to kill insects, weeds, mould and mildew, generally by spraying chemicals directly onto the plants and soil.
Organic farming uses many other methods to control pests, such as predator insects, non-toxic sprays (containing yeast for example), fire and manual labour. The use of chemical pesticides is strictly prohibited.
There is a saying in organic farming that if the insects and grubs are prepared to eat the produce, then it’s probably safe for us to eat too!
Below are two the lists produced for 2018.
The Dirty Dozen
(Conventional foods with high pesticide residue – avoid or buy organic!)
- Sweet bell peppers
The Clean Fifteen
(Conventional foods with the least pesticide residue)
- Sweet corn
- Sweet frozen peas
- Honeydew melon