Diet Diva
Diet Diva

Get advice on healthy eating, nutrition, and weight loss from expert dietitian Tara Gidus. 

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The “Dirty Dozen”

List of "dirty" produce may not be so dirty after all.

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The The Environmental Working Group (EWG) is a U.S. based environmental advocacy organization that developed a list in 1995 compiled of fruits and vegetables most contaminated with pesticides. Referred to as the “Dirty Dozen,” the list of produce includes:

  • celery
  • peaches
  • strawberries
  • apples
  • blueberries
  • nectarines
  • bell peppers
  • spinach
  • cherries
  • kale
  • potatoes
  • grapes

For these specific produce items, the EWG recommends that consumers choose organic forms. Before you drop your celery stick, listen up! A recent study published in the Journal of Toxicology questioned EWG’s methodology and are now calling them out! The study points to faulty methodology in creating the “Dirty Dozen” list and stated that the minimal amount of pesticides found on the most contaminated produce is far below levels that would cause adverse health effects.

In addition, the researchers stressed that organic produce is not pesticide free. Yes, conventional produce is more likely to contain pesticide residue than organic produce, however 23 percent of the organic food samples tested in the study were positive for pesticides.

This is only one study calling the environmental group out, and most likely more research studies will need to be conducted regarding the “Dirty Dozen’s” pesticide levels. This does provide some evidence that conventional produce is not as dirty as once thought. If you want to read more on pesticide risk, check out this nice compilation.

Bottom line: eat your fruits and veggies, whether they are organic or conventional. You don’t need to spend a ton of extra money on organic fruits and vegetables, but continue to rinse all of them before eating!

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Tags: Healthy Eating , Nutrition , Vegetarian

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MS, RD, CSSD, LD/N

Tara Gidus is a nationally recognized expert and spokesperson on nutrition and fitness.

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