Organic Fruit & Veg
Why do they matter?
The Dirty Dozen and the Clean 15 lists (see below) are updated every year by the Environmental Working Group (EWG). They inform us which 12 foods contain the highest amount of pesticide residue and the 15 with the least amount.
The Dirty Dozen foods are all porous, meaning they absorb more of the pesticide spray. And on the whole, they’re not the typical food you would peel. The Clean 15 foods tend to have a protective layer that we generally peel before eating, therefore discarding a lot of the residue. This is a good way to remember them if you forget the sheets when out shopping!
Ideally we would buy organic produce to avoid consuming these nasty chemicals, BUT sometimes they’re not available and in a lot of circumstances they're out of our price range.
These lists inform us which foods we should ideally be buying organic and which foods are safer to buy conventionally.
Why is this important and is it a fad?
It’s definitely not a fad. There is plenty of scientific research out there detailing how pesticides can impact our overall health if consumed at high and continuous levels. From neurological conditions such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s, various cancers, cardiovascular disease, developmental delays in children, impaired respiratory health and both male and female fertility. Yes – pesticide exposure can negatively impact your fertility.
This can be scary stuff to read but there are things we can do to offset digesting some of these pesticides:
Use the EWG lists and buy organic as much as possible, focussing on those Dirty Dozen.
Wash all fruit and vegetables (no matter what list they’re on) extremely well. You can buy a specific fruit and veg wash solution online or make your own. Add 1tsp of baking soda/bicarbonate of soda to every 2 cups of cold water and leave them to soak for approximately 15 minutes. Ensure all produce is covered. Once soaked sufficiently, give them a good rinse and pat dry with paper towels. They can now be eaten or stored in the fridge.
Grow your own! No matter what size your garden or if you only have a window box, you can pick up seeds very cheaply – and this way you know what’s on them.
Keep hydrated. Help your liver detoxify any pesticide residue left over and aim for 1.5-2 litres of filtered water daily.
All fruit and vegetables are delicious and nutritious and shouldn't be avoided, just remember if they're not organic to wash them as per the above and ENJOY!
Benbrook, C., Kegley, S., & Baker, B. (2021). Organic Farming Lessens Reliance on Pesticides and Promotes Public Health by Lowering Dietary Risks. Agronomy, 11(7), 1266. https://doi.org/10.3390/agronomy11071266
Environmental Working Group. (2019a). Clean FifteenTM Conventional Produce with the Least Pesticides. Ewg.org. https://www.ewg.org/foodnews/clean-fifteen.php
Environmental Working Group. (2019b). Dirty DozenTM Fruits and Vegetables with the Most Pesticides. Ewg.org. https://www.ewg.org/foodnews/dirty-dozen.php
European Environment Agency. (2023, April 26). How pesticides impact human health and ecosystems in Europe — European Environment Agency. Www.eea.europa.eu. https://www.eea.europa.eu/publications/how-pesticides-impact-human-health/
Guan, Y.-S., & He, Q. (2015). Plants Consumption and Liver Health. Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine, 2015, 1–10. https://doi.org/10.1155/2015/824185
Kalyabina, V. P., Esimbekova, E. N., Kopylova, K. V., & Kratasyuk, V. A. (2021). Pesticides: formulants, distribution pathways and effects on human health – a review. Toxicology Reports, 8, 1179–1192. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.toxrep.2021.06.004
Kim, K.-H., Kabir, E., & Jahan, S. A. (2017). Exposure to pesticides and the associated human health effects. Science of the Total Environment, 575, 525–535. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.scitotenv.2016.09.009