EWG Dirty Dozen

By Dr. Alyssa Musgrove
Earlier this month, the Environmental Working Group (EWG), a non-profit, non-partisan
organization dedicated to protecting human health and the environment, released its annual
report, “A Shopper’s Guide to Pesticides in Produce.” The report lists the Dirty Dozen, fruits and
vegetables with the most pesticide residue, and the Clean Fifteen, for which few, if any,
residues were detected.
Drawing from tests conducted by the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the Food and Drug
Administration, the 2024 report determined that 75 percent of all conventional fresh produce
sampled had residues of potentially harmful pesticides. But for items on the Dirty Dozen list, a
whopping 95 percent of samples contained pesticide. The USDA peels or scrubs and washes
produce samples before they’re tested, whereas the FDA removes only dirt first. Even after
these steps, the agencies’ tests still found traces of 254 pesticides in all fruits and vegetables
analyzed — and 209 of these were on Dirty Dozen produce.
While most pesticide residues the USDA finds fall within government-mandated restrictions, it’s
important to point out that legal limits aren’t necessarily safe. Pesticides are designed to kill
living organisms, such as insects, invasive plants and fungi. Given their designed purpose, it
should come as no surprise that pesticides could have a negative effect on human health, as
well. There have been many health risks linked directly to pesticides — including infertility,
brain and nervous system issues, cancer and hormone disruption — so it makes sense to keep
your exposure as low as possible.
In a perfect world, we would all buy and eat 100% organic. However, organic options aren’t
always available, and they often come with a heftier price tag. If fully organic isn’t in your
budget, you can eliminate many of the pesticides from your food by prioritizing certain organic
foods. The EWG’s annual lists provide a great place to start.

EWG’s 2024 Dirty Dozen List

1. Strawberries
2. Spinach
3. Kale/Collard/Mustard greens
4. Grapes
5. Peaches
6. Pears
7. Nectarines
8. Apples
9. Bell & hot peppers
10. Cherries
11. Blueberries
12. Green beans

EWG’s 2024 Clean 15 List

1. Avocados
2. Sweet Corn*
3. Pineapples
4. Onions
5. Papayas*
6. Frozen sweet peas
7. Asparagus
8. Honeydew melon
9. Kiwi
10. Cabbage
11. Watermelon
12. Mushrooms
13. Mangoes
14. Sweet potatoes
15. Carrots
*Although shown to have the among the lowest amounts of pesticide residue, sweet corn and
papayas sold in the United States are genetically-modified crops (GMOs). You should still choose
organic versions of these crops in order to avoid the GMO varieties.
There are a couple important things to keep in mind when using these lists:
1. Fruits and veggies are the foundation to a healthy diet. If you can’t buy organic, you are
still better off eating conventionally grown fruits and vegetables rather than not eating
them at all. Always eat lots of vegetables, but choose organic when possible, especially
when it comes to The Dirty Dozen.
2. If you are unable to purchase organic, consider peeling your produce. For example,
remove and discard the outermost leaves of lettuce and cabbage. Peel your potatoes
and apples.
3. For produce that you cannot peel, wash thoroughly — organic or not. To clean your
vegetables at home, mix one tablespoon of apple cider vinegar to one cup of water and
soak your desired fruit or vegetable. Stir periodically for five minutes before draining,
rinsing and using. Alternately, you can make a solution of one part vinegar and three
parts water and keep in a spray bottle near the sink. Simply spray your produce, then
rinse under cold water.
Pathways to Healing specializes in holistic chiropractic care. Dr. Alyssa Musgrove draws on a
variety of techniques, including chiropractic, kinesiology, nutrition, food allergy testing and
lifestyle counseling to assist clients in achieving optimal health and wellness in one setting.
Pathways to Healing is located at 1022 Founders Row, Lake Oconee Village, Greensboro. The
office can be reached at 706-454-2040.

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