Dirty Dozen and Clean 15

Every year, the Environmental Working Group releases its Shopper’s Guide to Pesticides in Produce, also known as the “Dirty Dozen.” Based on the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Pesticide Data Report, these items represent produce found to have the most pesticide residue. The numbers are quite shocking!

Nearly 70 percent of samples were contaminated with residue from at least one of 178 pesticides (strawberries had as much as 20 pesticides!). These chemicals remained on fruits and vegetables even after they were washed and, in some cases, peeled.

While this list is updated every year, there are certain items that make it on this list frequently. When possible, buy organic or grow your own to reduce the amount of exposure you have to dangerous pesticides.

In 2017, the Environmental Work Group identified the following items as the Dirty Dozen:

  1. Strawberries

  2. Spinach

  3. Nectarines

  4. Apples

  5. Peaches

  6. Celery

  7. Grapes

  8. Pears

  9. Cherries

  10. Tomatoes

  11. Sweet bell peppers

  12. Potatoes

In addition to the Dirty Dozen, the Environmental Work Group also identifies produce with the least amount of pesticide residue, known as the “Clean 15”. The 2017 Clean 15 list includes:


  1. Sweet corn

  2. Avocados

  3. Pineapples

  4. Cabbage

  5. Onions

  6. Frozen sweet peas

  7. Papayas

  8. Asparagus

  9. Mangoes

  10. Eggplant

  11. Honeydew

  12. Kiwifruit

  13. Cantaloupe

  14. Cauliflower

  15. Grapefruit

The University of Washington created an informative piece about pesticides in fruit and vegetables, detailing the effects of pesticides through consumption as well as exposure during use. It’s definitely worth the read and can be found here.

P.S. Organic produce is increasingly easier to find. Where do you shop for your organic produce?