The EWG (Environmental Working Group) released their 2023 Dirty Dozen™ and Clean 15™ lists on March 15th. These lists rank the most and least pesticide-contaminated non-organic (conventional) fruits and veggies in the US. This year’s list had some new additions that you should take note of when shopping the produce section for you and your family. It’s no secret that grocery bills have risen across the country for everyone in recent years so this list can be a helpful tool when buying organic isn’t an option due to cost or simply availability.
How does the EWG come up with these lists? They look at data based on the latest tests by the Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). For these tests, the USDA washes, scrubs and peels of 46 different fruits and vegetables just as you would in your own homes. The produce is then tested for levels of various pesticides. This year over 45,000 samples of produce were tested and residues of 251 different pesticides and pesticide breakdown products were found on 75% of the non-organic produce.* The majority of the levels of detectable pesticides did fall within the legal limits allowed by government regulations, but of course legal levels does not always mean safe levels (more on pesticides and harm at another time).
Here are this year's lists that were just released.
- Kale, collard & mustard greens
- Bell & hot peppers
- Green Beans
Blueberries and green beans were the surprise additions to this year’s list.
- Sweet corn
- Sweet peas (frozen)
- Honeydew melon
- Sweet potatoes
They also released a list of 19 fruits and veggies that were included in the testing but do not fall onto either list. You can find those here on the full list.
It’s always hard shopping for the ever-changing palettes of your little ones (especially picky toddlers) but hopefully you can use this list as a guide to make sure you’re buying the safest produce available for you and your family.*You can find more on the reasoning for EWG’s list and their data here.