What are the 'Dirty Dozen' and 'Clean 15'?

(Photo: MGN Online)

(WKEF/WRGT) - If you’re trying to eat organic produce but also don’t want to break your bank, there’s a list to help you on your quest to healthy eating.

The Clean 15 and The Dirty Dozen detail the best and worst produce when it comes to pesticides and herbicides used on crops. The simple explanation: If you're trying to save money, buy the Dirty Dozen organic and buy the Clean 15 non-organic. The Clean 15 have the smallest amounts of pesticides, if any, that are used on produce. The Dirty Dozen on the other hand, are grown with the highest amount of pesticides.

Here are the 2017 lists:

Dirty Dozen:

  • Strawberries
  • Spinach
  • Nectarines
  • Apples
  • Peaches
  • Pears
  • Cherries
  • Grapes
  • Celery
  • Tomatoes
  • Sweet Bell Peppers
  • Potatoes
  • + Hot Peppers

Clean 15:

  • Sweet Corn
  • Avocados
  • Pineapples
  • Cabbage
  • Onions
  • Sweet Peas Frozen
  • Papayas
  • Asparagus
  • Mangos
  • Eggplant
  • Honeydew Melon
  • Kiwi
  • Cantaloupe
  • Cauliflower
  • Grapefruit

How lists are formed:

The Dirty Dozen and the Clean 15 are put together by the Environmental Working Group. We learned about EWG from Debbie Serenius, a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist and Licensed Dietitian working in Dayton. She supports the Dirty Dozen and Clean 15 lists.

EWG says they are a non-profit, non-partisan organization, dedicated to protecting human health. EWG creates the two lists from data gathered by the U.S. Department of Agriculture. The USDA takes more than 36,000 samples a year, but doesn’t test every food on the list each year. EWG takes the data from the most recent sample to show which produce tests for more pesticides.

According to the EWG website, they test for six measures.

  1. Percent of samples tested with detectable pesticides
  2. Percent of samples with two or more detectable pesticides
  3. Average Number of pesticides found on a single sample
  4. Average amount of pesticides found, measured in parts per million
  5. Maximum number of pesticides found on a single sample
  6. Total number of pesticides found on the commodity

EWG says their list is based off the overall pesticide loads used, no based off an assessment of pesticide risk. For more on EWG, click here.

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