In all honesty being Environmental Studies students on student budgets (who quite frankly should be awarded for not eating three square meals of Kraft Dinner, with Mr. Noodle on special occasions) we try our best to eat healthy. Everyone, students included, need and want to eat well, but the shape of our produce leaves something to be desired.
Unfortunately with GMO’s, PCB’s, DDT, and whatever the next pesticide/herbicide/fungicide to hit the market will be, we have to be cautious about what we consume. After Rachel Carson published her ground-breaking book, Silent Spring, back in the 1960s and effectively caused the abolition of DDT, the world began to realize the real impacts of industrial pesticides on ourselves and the environment. However, other chemicals are still being used on our food and it’s still far too expensive to peruse the high end organic grocery stores for the average individual.
Here is our solution, The Clean Fifteen and The Dirty Dozen. These are two lists of the fifteen fruits and vegetables with the least amount of pesticide absorption and residue, and the twelve that have the most. The Environmental Working Group, or the EWG, created The Shoppers Guide to Pesticides and Produce to try to see which types of produces were a must to buy as certified organic or which you could get away with buying that were not. This is an extremely useful shopping guide, especially those of us on limited budgets.
The EWG reached their verdict through analyzed research from the USADA’s pesticide test from 2000-2009. This list was taken from the 53 most popular fruits and vegetables and compiling them in a list form cleanest to dirtiest.
We found this guide particularly helpful because this will help those who can’t afford to buy all certified organic produce, but still want to counter the health effects of the chemicals used on our fruits and vegetables. It’s particularly frightening that “nearly all the studies on which the guide is based tested produce after it had been rinsed or peeled”. So, an important rule of thumb is to make sure to THOROUGHLY wash your produce, no matter whether it is certified organic or not.
Dirty Dozen (in descending order, from dirtiest to cleanest)
6 Nectarines– imported
7 Grapes – imported
8 Sweet bell peppers
10 Blueberries – domestic
12 Kale/collard greens
Clean Fifteen (in ascending order, from dirtiest to cleanest)
2 Sweet Corn
6 Sweet peas
9 Cantaloupe – domestic
13 Sweet potatoes
Also, they have a handy PDF version of this list that you can print out and carry with you to the grocery store when you are doing your shopping. Here is where to download that: http://static.ewg.org/reports/2011/foodnews/pdf/2011EWGPesticideGuide.pdf
Check out the full list of all 53 fruits and vegetables: http://www.ewg.org/foodnews/list/
For more information about the EWG Food Guide, check out their website: http://www.ewg.org/foodnews/