2012 Dirty Dozen Update

Tomiko Peirano

Tomiko Peirano › Tomiko has amassed decades of experience in the food industry, from her family's restaurant in Oregon's ...


The Environmental Working Group (EWG) has recently released the 2012 update to their produce shopping guide, more commonly referred to as “The Dirty Dozen and The Clean Fifteen.”

The usual suspects are all still there. Conventionally grown apples and celery remain the undisputed pesticide-laden ‘champs,’ while conventionally grown onions, corn and pineapples don’t pack as big of a pesticide punch.

An interesting addition to note with this year’s list is the creation of the “Plus” category, featuring green beans and leafy greens like kale and collard. EWG defines the Plus category as being produce:

…that did not meet traditional Dirty Dozen™ criteria but were commonly contaminated with highly toxic organophosphate insecticides. These insecticides are toxic to the nervous system and have been largely removed from agriculture over the past decade. But they are not banned and still show up on some food crops.

The EWG also makes a point to remind consumers that although conventionally grown corn resides in the Clean Fifteen group, it is more often than not a genetically modified food (or GMO). So, if GMOs are a concern for you, you’re better off buying organic sweet corn.

Buying all organic isn’t an option for a lot of us, so it’s especially useful to know when and where we can ‘skimp’ and buy the conventional option.

The EWG works diligently to supply consumers with this important (and too often hard to find) information about food. They’re a terrific resource, but all that work doesn’t come cheap. If you’d like to help support the EWG’s continued research, they have a donation page up on their site.

Do you buy all organic, or are you still balancing between conventionally and organically grown produce?