The “Dirty Dozen” of Produce

No matter where you stand on the fence as far as your beliefs on organic products, there is certainly plenty of press regarding the amount of pesticides in our conventional fruits and vegetables. Most everyone agrees that if you have a choice between consuming conventional produce or no produce at all, the health benefits outweigh the possible consumption of pesticides–so eat your fruits and veggies! However, if you are a budget shopper who wants to avoid the fruits and vegetables that have the most pesticides, this article is for you. Organic produce often comes with a hefty price tag. However, you can cut costs by buying a mix of organic and regular produce. You can also shop at a local farmers market or co-op for locally grown produce, which supports your community too!

The “dirty dozen” is the popular name for the 12 fruits and vegetables that have been tested and contain the most pesticides. Sometimes it is because farmers use more pesticides on them, or because they have thinner, more porous skin that absorbs more of the chemicals. The list is as follows:

“The Dirty Dozen”

1. apples

2. strawberries

3. spinach

4. nectarines

5. grapes

6. sweet bell peppers

7. potatoes (regular, not sweet)

8. blueberries

9. lettuce

10. kale/collard greens

11. peaches

12. celery

If you are inclined to purchase organic, these should be at the top of your list. Interestingly enough, there is now a list called the “clean 15” which consists of the produce that contains the least amount of pesticides. We’ve attached it below in case you are interested.

“Clean 15”

1. Sweet potatoes

2. avocados

3. onions

4. corn

5. pineapple

6. asparagus

7. sweet peas

8. mangoes

9. eggplant

10. cantaloupe

11. kiwi

12. cabbage

13. watermelon

14. grapefruit

15. mushrooms


The moral is the story is: eat fruit and vegetables, organic or not. If you are going to buy organic, buy organic versions of the produce on the “dirty dozen” list first.

We want to hear from you: do you purchase organic produce?

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About the author

A practicing dentist since 1982, Dr. Gary Imm, provides advanced cosmetic dentistry, including smile makeovers, sedation, implant and TMJ services. He is committed to progressive, extraordinary care for his guests. All Smiles Dental Care trains at least 300 hours each year at such prestigious centers as the Las Vegas Institute of Advanced Dentistry. (LVI)