Is That Juicy Peach Poisonous? EWG Dishes Out Their Updated Dirty Dozen List

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Photo by Ellie Van Houtte/

The Dirty Dozen is back. No, we're not talking about the movie—it's the recently released, fifth edition of The Environmental Working Group's (EWG) list of the 12 conventionally grown fruits and veggies with the highest levels of pesticide residue.

So before you go food shopping, find out which produce items to purchase and which ones to pass on by!Peaches once again top the list, but spinach—which was on 2006's black list—moved down to 14th. This made NaturallySavvy wonder: How much poison are we talking about? As it turns out, a lot.

At least two pesticides were detected on 87 percent of all peaches studied, and a whopping 96.7 percent tested positive for pesticides. All of a sudden peaches don't taste so sweet. And while peaches are the most contaminated, the rest of the Dirty Dozen aren't much better off. After peaches, the list continues with apples, sweet bell peppers, celery, nectarines, strawberries, cherries, kale, lettuce, imported grapes, carrots and pears. This was sobering news since I personally eat seven of those items on a regular basis, and another three when they're in season.

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Source: Environmental Working Group

The EWG also broke down the study in terms of how much pesticide people could potentially be ingesting, and the numbers are pretty scary. If you regularly eat the 12 most contaminated foods, on average you'll be ingesting 10 different pesticides per day—versus two pesticides daily if you only eat the 15 least-contaminated fruits and veggies. I'm not sure about you, but I'll be avoiding the Dirty Dozen and opting for organic instead. As we already know, organic produce is healthier anyway!

But what about the fruits and veggies that landed in the murky middle? Where do potatoes, for example, fall on the list? Well, they ranked number 15, just outside the Dirty Dozen. We're talking about a vegetable that a lot of people eat on a regular basis, so it's important to know where your staples stack up. Take the time to review the full list of all 47 fruits and veggies studied so you can decide where your money is best spent on organics. Keep in mind that switching to organic is not always as expensive as you think. Produce prices often fluctuate from week to week, and when a big shipment of any item comes in—organic or not—the prices are going to dip lower. (Case in point: Last week I noticed I could get a bag of organic kiwis for the same price as non-organic, and organic navel oranges were only 10 cents more per pound.)

Want to know the full details of the study? Check it out here.

Then print out the EGW's handy list of the Dirty Dozen and the Clean 15, so you can keep in your wallet for reference.

More on Pesticides and Food:
Top 10 Foods to Eat Organically
Europe to Ban Cancer Causing Pesticides
Are There Pesticides Present in Your Child's Urine?

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