The Environmental Working Group (EWG) is a non-profit, non-partisan, organization with a mission to help protect the environment. The EWG publishes a list of the ‘Dirty Dozen’ and ‘Clean Fifteen’, the most recent of which was published for 2017. These lists highlight those foods which are most and least contaminated with pesticides. Pesticides are used to kill organisms which may be harmful to produce. We are unsure of all of the long-term effects pesticides may have on humans, though we are particularly concerned in relation to pesticides and reproductive and endocrine health. Children are likely even more susceptible to the potential negative effects and recent studies have been suggesting that pesticides can affect children’s neurologic and behavioral development.
A general rule of thumb is that if a food is able to be pealed, it is a cleaner option. The EWG tested fruits and vegetables to more specifically determine which foods are more or less ‘clean’ or ‘dirty’. The produce is washed and prepared as would be typically done, prior to testing. These lists can be helpful in deciding when to purchase organic foods. Organic foods are produced without the use of pesticides or synthetic fertilizers and have also been shown to contain more nutritional value than their non-organic counterparts. When possible, purchase the organic options from the ‘Dirty Dozen’ list.