EWG’s Shopping List Limits Your Pesticide Exposure

EWG Foodnews Shopper's Guide

Environmental Working Group (EWG) has updated their popular Shopper’s Guide to Pesticides with a list of fruits and vegetables which reduces a families’ exposure to pesticides.  Ordinarily, the EWG advocates that you buy organic; however, buying organic may not be feasible if  you have a tight budget or it is not available.    Therefore, the EWG created a wallet size shopping list, which contains a list of 15 conventional fruits and vegetables that have the lowest amounts of pesticides  (the Clean “15”).

Conversely, the list also contain the 12 vegetables and fruits that contain the highest amount of pesticides (the “Dirty Dozens.”) To see the breakdown of the Clean 15 and Dirty Dozen, see here.

The EWG  lists of 47 fruits and vegetable ranked from highest to lowest in regards to the amount of pesticide used.   See here.  Apples, peaches, and sweet peppers are listed as the highest in pesticides; whereas, sweet frozen corn, onions and avocados are listed as the lowest.

You can download the guide for free at www.foodnews.org. It will soon be available as an iPhone application.

Why should you be concerned about pesticides in your food?  According to the EWG in their recent statement,

“[t]he growing consensus among scientists is that small doses of some pesticides and other chemicals can cause lasting damage to human health, especially during fetal development and early childhood. Scientists now know enough about the long-term consequences of ingesting these powerful chemicals to advise that we minimize our consumption of pesticides.

This guide has been developed based upon data from nearly 87,000 tests for pesticides in produce conducted between 2000 and 2007 and collected by the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.  The EWG has found that consumers can reduce their pesticide exposure by 80 percent by simply avoiding the “Dirty Dozen” and eating the “Clean 15.”  Just as a frame of reference, if you ate 5 daily servings a day of fruits and vegetables from the most contaminated food products, you would be consuming on average 10 pesticides a day versus 2 pesticides on average from the least contaminated group.

Just as an aside, to understand those funny numbers on your food, Eartheasy, an online eco-friendly shop, broke it down for their readers in their recent newsletter.  They wrote,

• A four-digit number means the produce is conventionally grown
• A five-digit number beginning with 9 means it’s organically grown
• A five-digit number beginning with 8 means it’s genetically modified.”

Stay away from the five digit number which begins with 8 for genetically modified food.  So, copy above information, and add it to your EWG Shopping list.

Do not pass “Go and collect $200” until you print the list and put it in your wallet for safekeeping.  Don’t subject your body or those you love to unwanted pesticides.  Don’t you just love the EWG!  Keeping us safe and healthy, one body at a time.

Thanks to Lisa Frack, the EWG’s  community online parent coordinator for sending this information my way.


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  1. 1


    This is a great resource! I think decreasing exposure and just being ‘aware’ is a good first step. Also if more people could by local and in season – this may help the pocket book and the local farmers at the same time!

    • 2

      Green Talk says

      Angie, I absolutely agree to buy local and in season. Lower your carbon footprint with one caveat. Ask if the local farmer actually grew the produce and if the did, did they used pesticides. I have read that some farm stands sell other produce not even from their area! My local grower actually uses pesticides as need be so I am not sure what is better, local with some pesticides or organic that is farther away. What’s your thought? Anna


  1. […] Children are at utmost risk due to the impact of pesticides on their tiny immune systems.  Buying organic food may not be an option for some of us.  It can be more expensive.   Knowing this, the EWG prepared a list of 47 fruits and vegetables ranking them based on the load of pesticides.   See the list here.   Out of this list, the EWG recommended buying only organic when purchasing the  Dirty Dozen, which contain the highest load of pesticides. (For more information about the EWG’s shopping list, see here.) […]

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