"The Dirty Dozen" and Pesticides
The Environmental Working Group is a 501(c)(3) non-profit, founded in the 1990's for public education on issues of environmental health. Among other things, it publishes an annual list of "the dirty dozen," twelve kinds of produce that are most likely to contain pesticide residues. More recently, they have also begun publishing a list of "the clean 15." The lists are available online.
Pesticides are Poison, Often NeurotoxinsIn Latin the ending "-cide" indicates something that causes death. "Homicide" is the killing of a human. "Suicide" is the killing of the self. "Patricide" and "matricide" are the killing of parents and our modern words "pesticide" and "herbicide" were coined to refer to chemicals used to kill plants and unwanted animals. At a basic level, most pesticides are poisons, and most pesticides used on foods for sale in the United States are organophosphate nerve agents. Organophosphates are considered less dangerous than the organochlorides (such as DDT) they replaced, but they are still neurotoxins. For this reason, many people choose to avoid pesticide residue in their food.
The Dirty Dozen for 2009Conventionally-grown crops having the highest level of pesticide residue are sometimes referred to as the "dirty dozen" and tend to include soft-skinned fruits or low crops: those just above ground level that are most prone to insect attack. For this reason, many people prefer to spend a little extra to purchase these foods as organics
- Bell Peppers
- Imported Grapes
2009's Clean FifteenThe "clean fifteen," by contrast, are those organic foods which have the lowest levels of pesticide residue. These tend to be crops with thicker skins.
- Sweet Corn
- Sweet Peas
- Sweet Potatoes