The Dirty Dozen: The Top 12 Fruits and Veggies To Buy Organic Now

Published April 4, 2013

Not all fruits and vegetables are created equal—while they all pack a powerful wallop of nutrients you need, some are more prone to pesticide residue than others. To help shoppers separate the wheat from the pesticide-laden chaff, the Environmental Working Group (EWG) puts together a list of the “Dirty Dozen,” which identifies the fruits and veggies most at risk for having harmful chemicals lurking. By buying organic versions of these big 12, the EWG says you can lower your pesticide consumption by nearly 80 percent:

Dirty Dozen

1. Apples

2. Celery

3. Sweet bell peppers

4. Peaches

5. Strawberries

6. Nectarines (imported)

7. Grapes

8. Spinach

9. Lettuce

10. Cucumbers

11. Blueberries (domestic)

12. Potatoes

Wondering why you should bother being bothered by pesticides? In an age where seven out of every 10 samples of fruits and vegetables are contaminated, your chances of getting a side of pesticides while trying to fill your food pyramid quota for the day are high. And the health risks are real—pesticides have been linked with skin, eye and lung irritation; hormone system disruption; and even cancer.

That’s all scary, but before you toss the peas and carrots in favor of prepackaged snacks, wheel your cart out of the junk food aisle and back to the perimeter of the store—the health benefits of a diet loaded with fresh fruits and veggies outweigh the risks of pesticide exposure. And, fortunately, some items aren’t as affected as others. If buying organic produce isn’t in the budget or you have trouble finding it in your area, here are the 15 fruits and vegetables that have the least risk for pesticide exposure, according to EWG calculations:

Clean 15

1. Onions

2. Sweet corn

3. Pineapple

4. Avocado

5. Cabbage

6. Sweet peas

7. Asparagus

8. Mangoes

9. Eggplant

10. Kiwi

11. Cantaloupe (domestic)

12. Sweet potato

13. Grapefruit

14. Watermelon

15. Mushrooms

To learn more about the EWG and its Shoppers Guide to Pesticides, visit