A Guide to Pesticides in Food

When buying fresh produce, do you ever wonder which foods you should always buy organic, and which are ok to purchase mainstream? Sometimes you just can't get everything at the organic market and it can handy to know your options.

Each year The Environmental Working Group releases a document which answers this very question. You may have heard of it before, The Clean Fifteen and The Dirty Dozen. The research is based on American produce, but with similar farming ideas, is still applicable in Australia. 

Each item is supplied and tested for the number of pesticides and chemicals traceable, and in what quantities. There is a specific criteria for each list that the produce must meet to be considered as 'clean' or 'dirty'.

Some points I found really interesting ... 

  • The average potato had more pesticides for its weight than any other food
  • A single grape, contained 15 pesticides! 
  • Only 5.5% of the clean fifteen tested positive to two or more pesticides 
  • Avocados are the cleanest! Only 1% showed any detectable pesticides

Here is the 2014 list 

The Dirty Dozen

The suggestion is that you always buy organic for the following items

  • Apples
  • Strawberries 
  • Grapes 
  • Celery 
  • Peaches
  • Spinach 
  • Capsicum (sweet bell peppers) 
  • Nectarines 
  • Cucumber 
  • Cherry tomatoes
  • Snap peas 
  • Potatoes 

The Dirty Dozen Plus 

This year EWG added these two to the list. They don't meet the traditional criteria, but if you eat a lot of them, it is recommended that you choose organic. 

  • Red Chilli 
  • Kale and Collard Greens 

The Clean Fifteen

All of these tested very low or had no, pesticide traces and are considered safe to purchase non-organic 

  • Avocados
  • Sweet corn
  • Pineapple
  • Cabbage 
  • Sweet Peas (frozen) 
  • Onions 
  • Asparagus 
  • Mangos
  • Papayas 
  • Kiwi 
  • Eggplant 
  • Grapefruit
  • Rockmelon (Cantaloupe) 
  • Cauliflower 
  • Sweet Potato

If you want to read the full report, and do a little more research, go here. 

Will this change how you shop?

Share your thoughts in the comments section below. 


Kate Caddle

Kate Caddle is a life coach, writer, & intimate event facilitator.

She works with women whose lives look great on paper, but don’t feel so great on the inside. Helping them overcome jealousy, comparison and perfectionism, so they can take back their power, stop playing victim, and show up in their full potential.