3.12.2010

Exposing the Dirty Dozen

Let's face it: organic fruits and vegetables can be expensive. As much as I want support organic agriculture 100%, high prices often stand in the way. I'm guessing many of you are in the same boat as me. 

To help us decide which produce items are most worth purchasing organic for, the Environmental Working Group (EWG) published a list of 12 fruits and vegetables that are most dirtied by pesticides. They're collectively known as the Dirty Dozen.

While the nutrient content of non-organic versus organic produce is still hotly debated, the amount of pesticide ingestion from traditionally grown fruits and veggies is undeniable. Pesticides have been linked to hormone imbalances, cancers, nervous system disorders, and irritations of the eye, skin, and lungs. Pesticide ingestion is especially a problem for babies and young children. Because they're smaller in size, they can be affected by these chemicals in much smaller concentrations.

EWG conducted studies that showed avoiding the Dirty Dozen can reduce pesticide ingestion by almost 80%! Imported fruits and veggies can be particularly high in these chemicals because pesticide use isn't as firmly regulated in some countries as in the U.S.

It is true that washing and peeling helps get rid of pesticide residue on fruits and vegetables. But there is always going to be some left on the skins no matter how much washing, soaking, rinsing you do. Peeling can take care of the problem but not in all cases. I.e. peeling a strawberry would be ridiculous. Or peeling an apple since 80% of its fiber is in the skin! That's a lot of value (both nutrition and money) down the drain.

EWG offers a handy  pocket-sized printable guide AND an iPhone app that list the Dirty Dozen and Clean 15. Get yours by visiting foodnews.org.

3 comments:

Delwin Leung said...

I've got to be remember those dirty dozen

Court said...

Yes! I have been anxiously awaiting this post! What useful information! When we come home I'm gonna try my best to follow the dirty dozen rules!

Elizabeth Lee said...

Thanks, Court! You can start with picking one or two veggie or fruit that you eat most often and commit to buying organic for those first.

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