What produce to buy organic: the "dirty dozen" and the "clean 15"

From 2000 to 2007, the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the FDA conducted 87,000 tests on fruits and vegetables to determine their residues of pesticides. The foods on the Dirty Dozen list (listed below) are foods that have very porous skin, making it harder to wash away pesticides, some receiving a heavier dose of pesticides than other foods, because a multitude of pesticides are used on them (i.e.: apples and peaches). These are the items that you should always be buying organic.

The EWG created a guide for consumers to educate them on which non-organic items in the produce aisle aren't as toxic, the Shopper's Guide. This guide steers shoppers clear of the Dirty Dozen, and towards the Clean 15 (listed below), those items that either have a skin that cannot be penetrated by the pesticides and/or those that do not receive as many pesticides as most others. The Clean 15 are those foods that are okay to not buy organic, though you should anyway. The EWG research has shown that, "consumers can reduce their pesticide exposure by 80 percent by avoiding the most contaminated fruits and vegetables and eating only the cleanest. If consumers get their USDA-recommended 5 daily servings of fruits and vegetables from the 15 most contaminated, they could consume an average of 10 pesticides a day. Those who eat the 15 least contaminated conventionally-grown fruits and vegetables ingest less than 2 pesticides daily."

Yes, buying organic these days can be expensive, but isn't it worth your long-term health and those potential medical bills you'd have to pay in the future?

The Dirty Dozen (in order from most pesticide-ridden):

1. Peach

2. Apple

3. Bell pepper

4. Celery

5. Nectarine

6. Strawberries

7. Cherries

8. Kale

9. Lettuce

10. Grapes (imported)

11. Carrot

12. Pear

(Here's the list for the 47 worst and their pesticide rating)

The Clean 15 (in order from least pesticide-ridden)

1. Onion

2. Avocado

3. Sweet corn

4. Pineapple

5. Mango

6. Asparagus

7. Sweet peas

8. Kiwi

9. Cabbage

10. Eggplant

11. Papaya

12. Watermelon

13. Broccoli

14. Tomato

15. Sweet potato

Confused on which fruits and vegetables should you be buying organic? Yes, it can be expensive, but studies by the Environmental Working Group (EWG) studies show that there are some produce items that you should always be buying organic because of the amount of pesticides used on the non-organic kind and the porousness of their skins in retaining the pesticides.

Why should you care about the pesticides on your food? According to the EWG, "The growing consensus among scientists is that small doses of some pesticides and other chemicals can cause lasting damage to human health, especially during fetal development and early childhood. Scientists now know enough about the long-term consequences of ingesting these powerful chemicals to advise that we minimize our consumption of pesticides."

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