The Dirty Dozen List 2016

By Sally Cameron on April 12, 2016

Living Well

If you are concerned about pesticides in the produce you feed your family and want to reduce them, then here is the list to shop with. Updated annually, it’s the new 2016 list from The Environmental Working Group (The EWG). The Dirty Dozen and Clean Fifteen lists are a terrific resource for healthy shopping choices.

strawberries |

The Dirty Dozen and Clean Fifteen List 2016

For the first time ever, strawberries topped the list for the highest number of pesticide residues on the Dirty Dozen list. Apples headed the list for the last five years, but still came in number two for 2016.

The Dirty Dozen (+)

The Dirty Dozen list highlights fruits and vegetables with the highest pesticide residues. Buy organic from this list if at all possible.

  • Strawberries
  • Apples
  • Nectarines
  • Peaches
  • Celery
  • Grapes
  • Cherries
  • Spinach
  • Tomatoes
  • Sweet Bell Peppers
  • Cherry Tomatoes
  • Cucumbers

**Hot peppers, kale and collard greens were additions for this year so it’s really the Dirty Dozen Plus

The Clean Fifteen

The Clean Fifteen list highlights fruits and vegetables that are least likely to have pesticide residues. Shop with this list when when organic is not accessible or affordable.

  • Avocado
  • Sweet Corn*
  • Pineapples
  • Cabbage
  • Sweet peas frozen
  • Onions
  • Asparagus
  • Mangos
  • Papayas*
  • Kiwi
  • Eggplant
  • Honeydew melon
  • Grapefruit
  • Cantaloupe
  • Cauliflower

Get the full list of 50 here (lower numbers = more pesticides)

Use this link to get a downloadable PDF guide of EWG’s Shopper’s Guide to Pesticides in Produce to eat healthier and save money.

The Bottom Line: Eat Your Fruits and Vegetables

Eating lots of fruits and vegetables is important for a healthy diet. It is far more important than whether they are organically or conventionally grown. If your budget won’t handle the cost of organic produce or the availability is lousy, remember this and be sure to eat your fruits and vegetables. Here are 27 more ideas on how to stretch your grocery dollar budget.

* The EWG notes that a small amount of sweet corn, papaya and summer squash sold in the United States is produced from GE (GMO) seedstock. Buy organic varieties of these crops if you want to avoid genetically engineered produce.

  1. Robert J Keating MD - October 22nd, 2017

    How can we clean off the pesticides?

  2. Sally Cameron - October 23rd, 2017

    Thanks for your question Dr. Keating. If you’re asking about a produce wash, I’ve used a product called Eat Cleaner for years. It’s more effective than water and even helps your food last longer. Great if you like to prep ahead on the weekends to save time during the busy week. You can find Eat Cleaner on Amazon. Check out the website as it has great information. Wonderful product and all natural. Still, if the item is on the Dirty Dozen list, its best to buy organic as you cannot always wash off pesticides. According to the National Pesticide Information Center (, washing produce reduces pesticide levels but doesn’t completely remove them. Some fruits and vegetables have their pesticide residues sealed under a coating of shelf-life-extending wax. Others have soft or waxy skins that help chemicals stick to their surfaces. Another point, systemic pesticide can be used that are absorbed by the produce, hence the inability to wash it off as it’s inside. Has this helped? Please let me know.

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