I found the following list when I was researching organic food. I would love to switch all my food to organic but it’s so much more expensive. If I can find organic food in Woolworths I find that the Macro brand isn’t too expensive. It’s mainly the produce that’s out of my price range. It’s already $3.50 here for a head of cos lettuce that’s not organic! It’s $5.95 a kg for normal tomatoes and around $7-$8 per kg for vine ripened. Perhaps I should give a veggie garden another try…third times the charm right?
Some fruit and vegetables have a higher pesticide content than others. There is a list called the ‘Dirty Dozen’ and it makes sense. Grapes taste really weird and chemically until I’ve washed them thoroughly. I’m sure the pesticides are still on there though.
OK, so there are a few different opinions about foods that need to be on “Dirty Dozen” produce list. It seems, though, that no matter what list you read, the main culprits remain the same:
The above fruits and vegetables are considered the “Dirty Dozen” because they have the tendency to retain a higher level of pesticides and herbicides used by farmers than other types of produce. Let’s take a closer look, but first, a little background information.
The Food and Drug Administration periodically (although it seems more sporadic than anything) conducts residue monitoring tests on the crops of farmers around 100 different countries. What they test for are harmful chemicals that remain on the produce like pesticides, fungicides and herbicides, even after washing.
After testing, the FDA then rates the foods on a scale of one to 100. A low rating represents the foods with the least amount of residual chemical residue, and as the rating increases, so too does the amount of harmful chemicals.
A rating of 100 or near 100 represent the worst foods. Of course, it’s a bit more complicated than that, but that is the general purpose of the testing. On to the Dirty Dozen organic foods list.
According to a 2005 testing, apples rated an 89. As if that wasn’t scary enough, over 50 percent of the chemicals found on the tested apples were neurotoxins.
The FDA gave domestically grown cherries a rating of 75. The study found that cherries grown in the United States contain significantly more pesticides and harmful chemicals than those that are imported.
The grapes on the “Dirty Dozen” list are those that are imported. Domestic grapes have a rating of 43, not great, but not bad enough to make the list. Imported grapes ,on the other hand, have a rating of 65.
No matter where they are from, peaches are the worst culprit and number one on the “Dirty Dozen” list, with a rating of 100. This means, of all the produce on the list, peaches retain the highest amount of harmful residual chemicals.
The residual chemical level of the sister to the peach is a little lower at 84. This is probably attributed to the firmer and less porous skin of the fruit.
The type of pears aren’t specified in the FDA report, but most pear skin is similar in thickness and texture, so it’s safe to assume that the rating of 65 applies to all types of pears.
Lettuce is also susceptible to insect infestation and is heavily treated with chemicals. The FDA gives lettuce a rating of 59.
It’s no surprise the strawberries make the list. This favorite summer fruit has extremely soft skin and grows on vines at ground level. Like grapes, strawberries are very susceptible to mold and are therefore one of the most heavily chemically treated fruits in the country. The FDA gave strawberries a rating of 82.
The FDA testing was conducted on all types of bell peppers. Their resulting test score was an 86.
Celery is another type of produce that grows close to the ground and, as a result, not only do the pesticides and herbicides get on the celery, so too do the fertilizers and other chemicals applied to the ground. Celery has a rating of 85.
Potatoes have the lowest rating of the “Dirty Dozen,” coming in at 58.
Delicate spinach leaves are extremely susceptible to infestation of harmful insects and are therefore one of the most heavily treated crops. Spinach has an FDA rating of 60.
A Final Word About the Dirty Dozen
As mentioned above, “Dirty Dozen” organic foods lists often vary to include the following:
Whether you want to include raspberries, beef, poultry and dairy in your personal “Dirty Dozen” list, be sure to keep the main list detailed above during your next trip to the grocery store. Take a look at the offerings and choose the certified organic varieties to avoid the “Dirty Dozen” completely.