Talking with friends about food, cooking and grocery shopping (is there anything else?), I was surprised they did not realize that the Environmental Working Group updates their famous Dirty Dozen list annually. So just in case you have not heard of this list or are unaware that it was recently updated for 2013, now you know.
Why You Need to Know
This list will help you understand which fresh produce has the most synthetic pesticide residues and which has the least. Simply, it will guide you to make smarter choices for your family; which fruits and vegetables are the most important to buy organic. Shopping with this list will also help you maximize your grocery budget.
The Dirty Dozen Plus
If you want to reduce pesticides that you consume from fresh produce, here is the update on the top items to buy organic. It’s called The Shoppers Guide to Pesticides. I really do shop by this list. You can even download the list to your smartphone with a free app. See my notes at the end of the post for where to get that app and a few more that are helpful for smart grocery shopping. (update – here is the list for 2014)
Here are the worst offending fruits and vegetables for 2013. Blueberries and lettuce came off the 2012 list. I’m glad green beans are off the list too.
- Cherry Tomatoes
- Hot Peppers
- Imported Nectarines
- Sweet Bell Peppers
- Kale/Collard Greens
- Summer Squash (think zucchini)
Other Considerations – GMO
While the EWG’s list helps us reduce the pesticides in our produce by making smart choices, I have one more concern – GMO’s, or genetically modified organisms. While the EWG states that GMO’s are not often found in the produce section of grocery stores, and while sweet corn is on the Clean Fifteen list, I prefer to buy organic sweet corn. Otherwise the corn is likely GMO. Corn is one of the top GMO crops in this country. Papaya is another one to be concerned with, especially papaya grown in Hawaii.
For more information on GMO’s, check out Non-GMO Project.
For more information, here is the list of all 48 fruits and vegetables with pesticide residue data.
Smartphone Apps for Healthy Shopping Support
While you are downloading the the EWG Shopper Guide (Dirty Dozen), get Chemical Cuisine, ShopNoGMO Guide, Fooducate, Seafood Watch, and TrueFood.
- The Chemical Cuisine free app from the Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI) provides a list from A-Z of food additives and safety ratings. The list notes whether additives are safe or should be cut back, avoided or consumed with caution. Its a great help in reading labels.When you visit their website, check out the brown grocery bag (right lower side of the main page) labeled Consumer Toolkit for more great information.
- The free Non-GMO Shopping Guide provides simple tips on avoiding GMO’s a guide to browse, a favorites list, and information about GMO’s.
- Fooducate (iPhone-iPad only) allows you to scan a product at the store and read information on that product to help you decide if it is healthy. It does more too, like health tracking, although I have not used that part of the app.
- The Seafood Watch app, from Monterey Bay Aquarium, helps you make the best choice when shopping for seafood.
- TrueFood is from the Center for Food Safety (CFS) and offers tips for shopping and information on GMO’s, organics, and supermarkets. This group “works to protect human health and the environment by curbing theh proliferation of harmful food production technologies and bu promoting organic and other forms of sustainable agriculture.”