Have you heard of The Dirty Dozen? I don’t mean the 1967 action thriller film starring Lee Marvin, Charles Bronson, Telly Savalas and Donald Sutherland. I mean the list, produced by The Environmental Working Group researches, updated every year, which tells consumers the fruits and vegetables that contain the most residues from pesticides. The EWG also produces an opposing list called The Clean Fifteen that lists the foods containing the least residues.
The Dirty Dozen does not make for happy reading:
Nearly all samples of strawberries, spinach, peaches, nectarines, cherries and apples tested positive for residue of at least one pesticide.
The most contaminated sample of strawberries had 20 different pesticides.
Spinach samples had an average of twice as much pesticide residue by weight than any other crop. Three-quarters of spinach samples had residues of a neurotoxic pesticide banned in Europe for use on food crops—it's part of a class of pesticides that recent studies link to behavioural disorders in young children.
Eating plenty of fruits and vegetables is essential to good health. By considering the list on The Dirty Dozen and Clean Fifteen consumers are able to make an informed choice regarding pesticide loading against the invariably higher price of organic produce.
“It's particularly important to reduce young children's exposures to pesticides. For the items with the heaviest pesticide loads, we urge shoppers to buy organic," said Sonya Lunder, an EWG senior analyst.
The pesticide industry and chemical agriculture maintain that pesticides on produce are nothing to worry about, but doctors and scientists strongly disagree.
"Even low levels of pesticide exposure can be harmful to infants, babies and young children, so when possible, parents and caregivers should take steps to lower children's exposures to pesticides while still feeding them diets rich in healthy fruits and vegetables," said Dr. Philip Landrigan.
There’s a line in the film spoken by Lee Marvin, “You are ordered to deliver them secretly to undertake a mission of sabotage.”
It could not be more apt!
2017 Dirty Dozen List
11. Red / Sweet bell peppers
2017 Clean Fifteen List
1. Sweet corn
6. Frozen peas
10. Aubergine / Eggplant
11. Honeydew Melon