If you’re wondering which produce to buy organic, check out the dirty dozen and clean 15 lists by the EWG, a shopper’s guide to pesticides in produce. Each year, they produce an update on the produce that is carrying the most pesticide residue. The latest Dirty Dozen List 2021, for example, shows that there’s a high risk of pesticide residue in strawberries, spinach, kale, collard and mustard greens, and each year leafy greens in particular, usually feature on the dirty list.
To follow a healthy diet, it’s important to buy the right organic produce, and find out which conventional produce is safe to eat (The Clean Fifteen). The fruits and vegetables listed in the dirty dozen have been recorded as having the highest level of pesticides by the EWG. These are the fruits and vegetables that are best to buy organic in order to mimimise the health risks of consuming pesticides. The EWG is based in the United States, so the list is complied on US produce samples, but the Pesticide Action Network UK (PAN) creates a similar list based on UK data collected by the UK Government Department of Agriculture’s Pesticide Residue in Food (PRiF) committee.
The Dirty Dozen List 2021
The Environmental Working Group (EWG) is a non-profit organisation that updates the dirty dozen and clean 15 lists every year. It ranks the pesticide contamination on fruits and vegetables after they have been prepared to be eaten. This means the produce has been thoroughly washed and, when applicable, peeled. This is their 2021 list:
3. Kale, Collard & Mustard
10. Bell Peppers
The Latest UK Dirty Dozen List
UK data was compiled via the Pesticide Action Network UK (PAN). Their list is based on 2018, 2019 and 2020 data for multiple residues published by The Expert Committee on Pesticide Residues. PAN lists the ‘dirtiest’ fruit and vegetables based on UK Government data showing what percentage of samples revealed residues of more than one pesticide. They have chosen to focus on multiple residues because the UK regulatory system is only set up to assess the safety of one pesticide at a time and so misses what is often called ‘the cocktail effect’ of a multitude of pesticides. Here’s the latest UK dirty dozen list from PAN UK:
2. Soft Citrus – Clementines, Mandarins, Satsumas etc
5. Dried Grapes (sultanas, raisins)
7. Pre-packed Salad
11. Peaches and Nectarines
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