"The Dirty Dozen" and "The Clean 15" refer to the fruits and veggies that are the most and least contaminated by pesticide use, according to the Environmental Working Group, and it has been updated since 2012 so it's worth a look. Every year, the Environmental Working Group tests over 50 types of produce to determine which fruits and vegetables contain the highest concentrations of pesticides, and also those which contain the least amounts.
This is something that is super easy to become aware of and jot down to keep in your wallet, for the simple reason that pesticides are toxic by design, and if we're eating them we are putting toxins into our bodies.
There are loads of different pesticides designed for different reasons but many have been linked to a variety of health problems, including hormone disruption, cancer and brain toxicity. Not cool.
In a perfect world we would all be eating organic pesticide-free fruits and veggies all the time. Unfortunately, that's not possible for a lot of people. I eat organic 95% of the time and all the produce I go out and buy myself is organic. If I'm at enjoying a social meal more for soul food, then I try to not to get too stitched up if it's not organic. But I wasn't always this way. It was my partner who really got my into organics as he was and still is so very passionate about it. It's rubbed off on me.
For most people, and this was me too, switching to organic produce is a gradual process, because organic foods tend to be more expensive than their counterparts. Depending on your location you may not be able to source it either, but I'm sure you could try growing some of your own in your back yard. Then some other people, learn the differences between organic and "conventional", or have health issues that facilitates an entire overhaul to everything being organic and pronto, and there's no looking back! Eating non-organic is often cheaper, but you have to weigh up long term health consequences of chemical and pesticide ingestion, and depleted mineral consumption from toxic soils that are no longer thriving (meaning that supplement list gets longer and longer, costing more and more).
Some ways to balance out the higher cost of organic foods is to cook from scratch, use everything you buy (if it's starting to turn, juice it or make a soup/stock), plan your meals and only buy what you need, start growing your own, and experiment with food preservation (fermented veggies, sauerkraut, chutneys, jams, sauces, and frozen meals). And one biggie I always do is to buy what's on sale. This will also vary your meals week to week.
So these lists has been updated for 2013 and there are a few changes to previous years so be sure to make note.
Should you avoid the dirty dozen?
If you can't buy these items organic for whatever the reason, non-organic fresh fruits and vegetables are always a healthier choice than processed foods. But be sure to wash all your produce in your sink when you come home from your shopping. 1 part vinegar to 3 parts water and scrub really well before letting them dry and popping them back in your fridge.
Happy Shopping now...