Dirty Dozen & Clean 15: Updated 2019

Have you heard of the dirty dozen or clean 15?

It’s hard to eat organic all the time, especially if you don’t have access to farmers’ markets in your area. Supermarkets are catching up and starting to have organic produce available in them. But what are the food you NEED to eat organic and which ones can you get away with not?

This is a simple list complied by the EWG (environmental working group) to help you minimise exposure to toxins, chemicals and pesticides.

The Dirty Dozen has been updated to contain the 13 most heavily pesticide covered foods. So if you wish to eat these foods, as much as possible you should be eating them as organic produce ONLY.

Strawberries and spinach were the worst offends for the 3rd year straight.

And kale had the worst number of different types, with multiple samples of kale showing 18 different pesticides.

The 2018 Dirty Dozen includes:


One strawberry was found to have 22 different pesticides residue on it. On average 1/3 of conventional strawberries have 10 or more pesticides. With an average of 7.8 different pesticides per sample. 99% had detectable at least one pesticide residue that was detectable.Whats worse is strawberry grows often use poisonous gases to sterilise their fields before planting, killing every pest, weed and other living thing in the soil.


97 percent of conventional spinach samples contained pesticide residues. Conventional spinach had relatively high concentrations of permethrin, a neurotoxic insecticide. On average 7.1 pesticides are found on conventional grown spinach samples.

3. Kale

Nearly 70% of produce sold in the US comes with pesticide residue. With 92% or more having 2 or more pesticides on them, with a single sample potentially containing up to 18 different residues.


Nearly 94 percent of nectarine samples contained two or more pesticides. One sample of conventionally grown nectarines contained residues of 15 pesticides.


90 percent of conventional apples had detectable pesticide residues. 80 percent of apples tested contained diphenylamine, a pesticide banned in Europe. They contain on average 4.4 pesticide residues including some in high concentrations. Most are drenched in diphenylamine to stop the apples getting “storage scold”.


Grapes contain an average of five pesticide residues. More than 96 percent of conventional grapes test positive for pesticide residues.


More than 99 percent of conventional peaches had detectable pesticide residues. An average of four pesticide residues were detected on conventional peaches.


An average of five pesticides were detected on conventional cherries. 30 percent of cherry samples contained iprodione, a pesticide not allowed in Europe, which may cause cancer.


Pears contained several pesticides in relatively high concentrations, including insecticides and fungicides. More than half of conventionally grown pears tested had residues of five or more pesticides.


Nearly four pesticides were detected on the average conventionally grown tomato. One sample of conventional tomatoes contained 15 different pesticides and breakdown products.



More than 95 percent of conventional celery samples tested positive for pesticides A maximum of 13 pesticides were detected on a sample of conventional celery.


Conventional potatoes had more pesticide residues by weight than any other crop. One pesticide in particular, chlorpropham, makes up the bulk of pesticides detected on potatoes.


Nearly three-quarters of Chillies/hot pepper samples contained pesticide residues. Chillies/Hot peppers are on the Dirty Dozen Plus list because they contain traces of highly toxic pesticides.

What about the Clean 15?

The Clean 15 is the list of foods that are least likely to have pesticides on them. So if you can’t get these foods organically grown it doesn’t matter so much. It can be hard and costly to buy organic foods. I completely understand. So thats why this list was created to help you pick food that should be safer to eat if conventionally grown.

Less than 1% of avocados and 2% of sweet corn showed any detectable pesticides

And more than 70% of clean 15 foods had no pesticide residues!

The Clean 15 includes:


Fewer than 1 percent of conventional avocados tested positive for pesticides. Only one pesticide was found on any of the 360 avocados sampled.


Less than 2 percent of sweet corn samples had any detected pesticide residues. A small amount of sweet corn is grown from Roundup Ready genetically engineered seeds. Buy organic corn to avoid GE crops. We don’t have as many GMO crops in Australia but it is sneaking its way in. So corn should be ok but to be safe eat organic due to that.


90 percent of conventional pineapples had no detectable pesticide residues. Only five different pesticides were detected on more than 350 conventional pineapple samples.


Only two of more than 700 cabbage samples contained more than one pesticide residue. 86 percent of cabbage samples contained no detectable pesticide residue.


Less than 10 percent of conventional onion samples contained any pesticide residues. No conventional onion samples contained more than three pesticides.


Roughly 80 percent of conventional frozen sweet peas had no detectable pesticide residues. No sample of frozen sweet peas contained more than two pesticides.


80 percent of conventional papayas had no detectable pesticide residues. None of the nearly 750 samples of conventionally grown papayas tested contained more than three pesticides.


90 percent of conventional asparagus samples had no detectable pesticide residues. No more than three pesticides were detected on any conventional asparagus sample.

9. Mushrooms

Replacing mangoes this year, mushrooms have made the list.


About three-fourths of all conventional eggplants tested contained no pesticide residues.

No more than three pesticide residues were detected on any sample of conventionally grown eggplant.



About half of all conventionally grown honeydew melons had no detectable pesticide residues.

No more than four pesticides and breakdown products were detected on honeydew samples.


65 percent of kiwi samples had no detectable pesticide residues.

Only six different pesticides were detected on any of the conventionally grown kiwis tested.


More than 60 percent of conventional cantaloupe samples contained no detectable pesticide residues.

Only about 10 percent of cantaloupe samples contained more than one pesticide residue.


About half of all conventionally grown cauliflower samples contained no detectable pesticide residues.

No single cauliflower sample contained more than three detectable pesticide residues.


70 percent of broccoli samples had no detectable pesticide residues.

Only one in ten broccoli samples contained more than one pesticide residue.

We are exposed to so many toxins now due to the environment in which we live.

So the aim is to minimise exposure as we will not be able to get rid of all of it. We need to try and reduce the overall burden on our body so it can cope with the onslaught it does receive in our modern world.

One such way is try buy organic with the dirty dozen, but even with the clean 15

Is there any reason i should eat organic or is it just to avoid pesticides?

Yes organic fruits and vegetables may have the same macro and micro nutrients as their counter parts- although the research is showing due to our soil quality an apple today compared to an apple in the 1950s contains way less nutrients. But the real difference today between eating an organic berry for example compared to a conventional berry- aside from the pesticide problem is that the organic ones contain more antioxidants. Plants contain different phytochemicals and antioxidants is one such of these. Plant phytochemicals include polyphenols, flavanols and flavonoids. Which are higher in organic produce as they plant is under more ‘stress” as it has to fight of bugs and fend for itself. These phytochemical are the plants defence system and it has more of these as it has to be tougher to survive.

What if i can’t afford organic - is there anything I can do?

If the produce is not organic wash in filtered water (if you have it) and a tbs of sodium bicarbonate and let the vegetables soak/wash for 15minutes. Then rinse, sodium bicarbonate has been shown to remove residual pesticides let on the skins of fruits/vegetables. However it will not remove the pesticides that the vegetable/fruit has soaked up.

Root vegetables pull chemicals from the soil as well as nutrients from the soil in which they live, so this can’t simply be “washed off’, but you can wash off a lot of the chemicals on the skin with the sodium bicarbonate soak.

Don’t take this information the wrong way we still want to eat our fruits and vegetables. Even if we can’t get organic produce, but if we can eat organic then we should especially of the dirty dozen.

If you want to find out more about this visit the EWG’s website. They also have an app you can download.


Happy food shopping! xo