“Dirty Dozen” Fruits and Veggies


Most of us have this general perception that “all” fruits and vegetables are healthy and good for us, without realizing how they were grown and how many chemicals (eg. pesticides, etc.) they may contain. This CNN Health’s Food column article highlights how many pesticides they may contain.

Screenshot credit: CNN Health

Strawberries and spinach continue to top the annual list of the “Dirty Dozen” fruits and veggies that contain the highest levels of pesticides, followed by three greens – kale, collard and mustard – nectarines, apples, grapes, and bell and hot peppers.

– Environmental Working Group’s 2022 Shopper’s Guide to Pesticides in Produce (source: CNN Health).

Quoting experts, the article suggests “don’t stop eating these foods, which are full of the vitamins, minerals, fiber and antioxidants needed to battle chronic disease”.

Alexis Temkin, a toxicologist at the EWG with expertise in toxic chemicals and pesticides, told CNN:

“If the things you love to eat are on the ‘Dirty Dozen’ list, we recommend buying organic versions when you can. Several peer-reviewed studies and clinical trials have looked at what happens when people switch to a fully organic diet. Concentrations and measurements of pesticides decrease very rapidly.”

Steps We Can Take

Under steps consumer take, the article suggests the following, while consuming our fruits and vegges:

  • Rinse all produce before serving. Don’t use soap, detergent or commercial produce wash – water is the best choice.
  • Choose local. Buying food that is purchased directly from a local farmer can reduce the risk of pesticide exposure.
  • Buy in season. Prices drop when fruits and vegetables are in season and plentiful. That’s a good time to purchase organic foods in bulk, then freeze or can them for future use, experts suggest.

Soap and household detergents can be absorbed by fruits and vegetables, despite thorough rinsing, and can make you sick. Also, the safety of the residues of commercial produce washes is not known and their effectiveness has not been tested.

– the US Food and Drug Administration (source: CNN Health)