Are you concerned about the harmful effects of pesticides on your produce? Well, fear not — the Environmental Working Group (EWG) has released its annual Shopper’s Guide to Pesticides in Produce for 2023. With data from the USDA and FDA on more than 46,569 samples of 46 fruits and veggies, you’ll have all the info you need to make informed decisions about which produce items to prioritize purchasing organic, and which items are relatively low in pesticide residues (and thus safe to purchase conventional!).
Think of this list as your personal shopping guide, serving to help you navigate the healthiest choices for your body without breaking the bank. Because, let’s face it, shopping 100% organic can be pricey. And, it may not be feasible for everyone’s budget. That said, if you’re on a budget, fruits, and veggies as a whole (whether organic or not) are still a super source of nutrients. Plus, they’re a much healthier alternative to processed foods and artificial sugars. So, don’t steer away from the veggie aisle! This list is here to simply help you prioritize your produce shopping so you can make the most of your money while supporting your health.
And, more good news — it’s not just about choosing organic over conventional! It’s about knowing which fruits and veggies are red flags (aka, highest in pesticides), and which are the MVPs when it comes to low-pesticide conventional picks. By using the Clean 15 and Dirty Dozen lists, you can prioritize which fruits and vegetables to purchase organic, based on which ones are most likely to have higher levels of pesticide residues. This will benefit both your wallet and your health!
The 2023 Results Are In! Here Are the Biggest Changes
New to the dirty dozen list are blueberries and green beans. Another considerable change — cantaloupe was cut from the Clean 15 (though not added to the Dirty Dozen), and carrots were added in place.
The 2023 Dirty Dozen List
Of the 46 different fruits and veggies tested, these 12 were of the biggest concern. According to the EWG, 210 pesticides were found on Dirty Dozen items, with all items containing at least 13 (and up to 23) different pesticides. Plus, aside from cherries, all dirty dozen crops were found to contain more than 50 different pesticides.
The takeaway? Make these your must-have organic items, when shopping!
#3 Kale, collard greens, and mustard greens
#9 Bell and hot peppers
#12 Green beans
The biggest culprits from the list? Kale, collard greens, mustard greens, hot peppers, and bell peppers. Each of these sneaky sources averaged just over 100 pesticides.
In better news, the 2023 Clean 15 list!
The 2023 Clean 15 List
Similar to last year, avocados and sweet corn are at the top of the clean list, with less than 2% of samples showing any detectable pesticides! Plus, you’ll be happy to know, of all the 15 clean items, almost 65% had no detectable pesticide residues, and no sample tested positive for more than three pesticides.
So, if you’re going to shop conventional, prioritize these as your prime picks.
#2 Sweet corn
#6 Sweet peas (frozen)
#8 Honeydew melon
#13 Sweet Potatoes
Pick Your Produce Wisely!
As you know, grocery shopping can be costly! But, the 2023 Clean 15 and Dirty Dozen lists are here to help you prioritize healthy choices without breaking the bank on organic produce. Knowing that foods like blueberries, peppers, and dark collard greens are “dirty,” while foods like avocado and asparagus are “clean” can help you fill your cart with the healthiest and most affordable produce available. So, the next time you’re grocery shopping, check out these lists to help you make informed decisions on what to buy — and don’t forget to check the freezer! Frozen produce can be just as nutritious as their fresh counterparts, but oftentimes, frozen is cheaper!