Your Guide to Pesticides in Food (Dirty Dozen vs Clean 15)

Aug 01, 2018

Your Guide to Pesticides in Food (Dirty Dozen vs Clean 15)

You are probably more than aware of the recent Organic produce movement by now.

Conventional farming practises often use toxic chemicals, which can enter our foods through means of fertilisers, sewage sludge, pesticides and herbicides.

As much as we are told otherwise, these toxins are absorbed into the farmed foods and therefore enter the body (of you and your loved ones) when they are consumed.

Washing your produce can help to decrease some of these toxins, but majority of pesticides are absorbed into the food and cannot be removed before consuming.

Generally organic produce is more expensive, so if you are not in a position to afford all organic at this stage, this ‘Shoppers Guide To Pesticides in Food’ list will help.

It has been developed by the ‘Environmental Working Group’ in the US, in order to make people aware of those fruits and vegetables which are the highest contaminated by toxins in the farming process.


The foods in the left column below are known as the ‘Dirty Dozen’ and should be purchased organic, otherwise it is best to use other options.

Although the list is based on US farming, non-organic practises in Australia are similar. We also import many fruits and vegetables from America.

The ‘Clean 15’ in the right column are foods that are conventionally farmed using minimal toxins to control pests and enhance yield. If you can’t afford organic, these are a safer option to include in your next food shop.

      Dirty Dozen       Clean 15
  • Apples
  • Celery
  • Strawberries
  • Peaches
  • Spinach
  • Nectarines
  • Grapes
  • Capsicums
  • Potatoes
  • Blueberries
  • Lettuce/ Kale/ Collard Greens
  • Cherries
  • Cucumber*
  • Broccoli*
  • Carrots*
  • Onions
  • Pineapple
  • Sweet Corn (non GMO)
  • Avocado
  • Asparagus
  • Sweet Peas
  • Mangoes
  • Eggplant
  • Rock Melon
  • Kiwi Fruit
  • Cabbage
  • Watermelon
  • Sweet Potato
  • Grapefruit
  • Mushrooms

*Due to the Dirty Dozen list being American, these are relevant Australian foods to add to the ‘Dirty Dozen’ list.

Although sticking to the ‘Clean 15’ foods is a safer option, unless you buy organic, you will never know for sure how many harmful toxins have been used to farm the food item. If you want more scientific information behind the organic debate, see this referenced article from Biodynamic Agriculture Australia.

To make buying Organic more affordable, seek out local farmers markets. Produce will be in season, fresher and you have the bonus of knowing and communicating with the local farmer him/herself.

Even better would be to try growing some of these foods on the ‘Dirty Dozen’ list at home.

Growing your own produce is a great activity to enjoy with friends and family and you get the added benefit of spending time with nature.


Kasey x


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