The EWG Dirty Dozen And The Clean 15 Foods List

vegetables in a garden

Last Updated on November 3, 2022 by Lori Geurin

You’re probably aware that pesticides are bad for you. But how much do we really know about these harmful chemicals and how we can prevent being exposed to them? Get ready, because what you’re about to read may surprise you. You’ll learn all about the dirty dozen and clean 15 foods from EWG.

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The U.S. Government And Regulating Pesticides

Recent studies of neurotoxic pesticides used to treat our fruits and vegetables revealed that:

“children with high exposures were at greater risks of impaired intelligence and neurological problems.” (1)


If that’s not alarming I don’t know what is!

But hold on a second. That’s not all. EWG also reports startling news about our government’s role in (or lack of) monitoring these harmful compounds:

“Pesticide manufacturers and produce trade groups claim that no studies link pesticide residues in the diet to health risks. The fact is, the government has not done studies that would answer the many questions about pesticides’ impact on health. Neither has the industry. But lack of data about residue safety is not proof that pesticides are safe.” (2, emphasis added)


If you’ve ever wondered about the impact pesticides have on people and if we really know enough to make educated choices about our food you’ll be interested to hear what EWG has to say about this issue:

“Americans are likely polluted with far more pesticides than current studies report. Agribusiness and pesticide companies are not required to determine whether their chemicals are present in people, not even for compounds that are widely found in the food supply. The CDC’s national biomonitoring program has likely only scratched the surface in its efforts to determine the human body burden of pesticides.” (3)


So, essentially, we have much more to learn about the impact pesticides have on the human body. And, consequently, we cannot rely on the government to do it for us. Keep reading to find out why.


EPA Director Rejects Banning Harmful Pesticides

Following is one example (among many) of how some government officials are making baffling choices that can harm the health of the American people. In fact, a few years ago, in March of 2017, the head of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Scott Pruitt rejected scientific evidence collected from their own team of experts in chemical safety.

Let me repeat that: The EPA’s own team of experts:

“recommended banning one of the nation’s most widely used insecticides (Chlorpyrifos) be permanently banned at farms nationwide because of the harm it potentially causes children and farm workers” (4)

New York Times

based on scientific evidence.

And the head of the EPA rejected their findings. I mean wowzers, right?!

Not surprisingly, there was an outcry against Pruitt’s decision, and environmental groups, including the Natural Resources Defense Council, said that it showed that they:

“cared more about catering to the demands of major corporate players, like Dow Chemical, than the health and safety of families nationwide.”

I don’t know about you, but this leaves my mind spinning with questions.

(If you want to learn more about this issue you can read the proposal to ban Chlorpyrifos here.) Now, moving on to the good stuff…

The good news is that, although some government officials do not seem to be looking out for the health of Americans, we have resources we can use to help us make informed consumer decisions concerning protecting our families from harmful pesticides.

One of my favorite resources is EWG.org. So keep reading to learn more about clean eating and how EWG can help.


the dirty dozen and clean 15 / plants and flowers in pots
The Dirty Dozen And The Clean 15 Foods LoriGeurin.com

The Dirty Dozen And Clean 15 Foods

The EWG’s Dirty Dozen is a list of produce that’s most likely to be contaminated by pesticides. Choosing to go organic when buying these foods (when possible) is preferable.

But if this isn’t a workable option for you please don’t avoid eating these healthful foods. Simply be sure to clean your produce thoroughly.

(An apple cider vinegar solution is a great choice for cleaning your fruits and veggies!)

So, without further ado, here are the Dirty Dozen.

EWG’s Dirty Dozen List – 2019

  1. Strawberries
  2. Spinach
  3. Kale
  4. Nectarines
  5. Apples
  6. Grapes
  7. Peaches
  8. Cherries
  9. Pears
  10. Tomatoes
  11. Celery
  12. Potatoes
  13. +hot peppers

EWG’s Clean 15 List – 2019

The Clean 15 is a list of produce that’s least likely to be contaminated by pesticides. Check out the list below:

  1. Avocados
  2. Sweet Corn *
  3. Pineapples
  4. Sweet Peas Frozen
  5. Onions
  6. Papayas *
  7. Eggplants
  8. Asparagus
  9. Kiwis
  10. Cabbages
  11. Cauliflower
  12. Cantaloupe
  13. Broccoli
  14. Mushrooms
  15. Honeydew Melon

The foods with an * are sometimes produced from genetically modified seeds or GMOs. If you want to avoid GMOs be sure to buy organic. You can learn more about GMOs in Organic Versus Non-GMO: What’s The Difference?

Summary – The Dirty Dozen And The Clean 15 Foods

As consumers, we can make smart decisions about the foods we purchase and serve our families. Likewise, the Dirty Dozen and the Clean 15 lists can help you know which foods have fewer pesticides.

As I mentioned above, I’m not at all suggesting that you avoid the Dirty Dozen (if buying organic is not an option) because these foods are packed with antioxidants, fiber, and vitamins.

Most importantly, eating fruits and veggies is always healthier than resorting to less healthy snacks, such as pre-packaged, sugar-laden foods. But, when it’s possible, try to buy the organic option. Our local Aldi has a good selection of organic produce at reasonable prices, which I love.

What do you think about the Dirty Dozen and Clean 15? Did any surprise you? What about organic produce?

Share below in the comment section. I’d like to hear your thoughts on this issue!

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10 thoughts on “The EWG Dirty Dozen And The Clean 15 Foods List”

  1. UGH! This is so frightening, and just reminds me how hard shopping for food can be & that I need to be diligent and mindful every time I step inside the grocery store. The lists are awesome! Thanks for sharing!

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