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Do you know your dirty dozen from your clean fifteen?

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In tribute to Organic September 2017, we're exploring the foods you really should buy organic – and the ones you probably can get away with ... The benefits of eating organic are well documented; not only does research show consuming organic fruits like peaches and apples benefit our health through reducing pesticide exposure, it’s also good for the planet. Each year the Environmental Working Group releases its Dirty Dozen list, a list of foods you should always, where possible, buy organic.  The group analyse data abut pesticide residue and rank food based on how much or how little residue they have. The group have estimated that you can reduce your exposure by 80% if you switch to organic for these 12 fruits and vegetables. Of the fruits and vegetables you buy every week, which should you buy organic? Your organic shopping list These are the fruits and vegetables with the highest pesticide residue, according to the Environmental Working Group’s annual ‘dirty dozen’ list:
  1. Strawberries
  2. Spinach
  3. Nectarines
  4. Apples
  5. Peaches
  6. Pears
  7. Cherries
  8. Grapes
  9. Celery
  10. Tomatoes
  11. Peppers
  12. Potatoes
Each of these foods tested positive for a number of different pesticide residues and contained higher concentrations of pesticides than other produce. Pears and potatoes were new additions to the Dirty Dozen, displacing cherry tomatoes and cucumbers from last year's list.
  • More than 98 percent of samples of strawberries, spinach, peaches, nectarines, cherries and apples tested positive for residue of at least one pesticide.
  • A single sample of strawberries showed 20 different pesticides.
  • Spinach samples had, on average, twice as much pesticide residue by weight than any other crop.
Also, try to buy organic milk and dairy, as vitamins, minerals and levels of omega-3 are higher in organic varieties. Other fruit and vegetables that have been on the list in previous years to also try and buy organic include: cucumbers, kale, collard greens, cherry tomatoes, courgette, lettuce and blueberries.
Buy the Clean Fifteen!  These come under the list of the ‘clean 15’, i.e. fruit and vegetables with the least pesticide residues, so you can buy conventional varieties and save precious pennies:
  1. Avocados
  2. Kiwi
  3. Cauliflower
  4. Sweetcorn
  5. Pineapples
  6. Cabbage
  7. Sweet peas
  8. Onions
  9. Asparagus
  10. Papayas
  11. Kiwis
  12. Aubergine
  13. Honeydew melon
  14. Cantaloupe melon
  15. Grapefruit
  • Avocados and sweetcorn were the cleanest: only 1 percent of samples showed any detectable pesticides.
  • More than 80 percent of pineapples, papayas, asparagus, onions and cabbage had no pesticide residues.
  • No single fruit sample from the Clean Fifteen tested positive for more than four types of pesticides.
  • Multiple pesticide residues are extremely rare on Clean Fifteen fruit and vegetables. Only 5 percent of Clean Fifteen  samples had two or more pesticides.
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