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2019 “Dirty Dozen” and “Clean 15”: Where Organic Matters

Published November 26, 2018 (Revised: November 09, 2019) Read Time: 3 minutes
Ben Kissam

Written By: Ben Kissam, BS

Ben has a B.S. in Movement and Sports Science and over 7 years Certified Personal Training Experience.

Fact-Checked By: Ana Reisdorf MS, RD

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<script type="application/ld+json"> { "@context":"http://schema.org", "@type":"BlogPosting", "author": { "@type": "Person", "name": "Ben Kissam, BS" }, "publisher": { "@type": "Organization", "name": "Warrior Made", "logo": { "@type": "ImageObject", "url": "https://www.warriormade.com", "image": "https://d1ghrtdbdq2gkr.cloudfront.net/media/public/2019/11/dirty-dozen-clean-15-thumbnail-0023.jpg" } }, "headline":"2019 “Dirty Dozen” and “Clean 15”: Where Organic Matters", "datePublished":"2018-11-26", "dateModified": "2019-11-09", "description":"When does organic matter? Here are the 2019 updated Dirty Dozen and Clean 15 lists.", "image": "https://d1ghrtdbdq2gkr.cloudfront.net/media/public/2019/11/dirty-dozen-clean-15-thumbnail-0023.jpg" } </script> <script type="application/ld+json"> { "@context": "https://schema.org", "@type": "FAQPage", "mainEntity": [{ "@type": "Question", "name": "What is the Clean 15 and the Dirty Dozen?", "acceptedAnswer": { "@type": "Answer", "text": "The Clean 15 and Dirty Dozen are used to describe the Environmental Working Group (EWG)'s recommendations for the types of produce that you should (or don't need to) buy organic.<br>The Clean 15 are the 15 fruits and vegetables that you can buy non-organic because they have lower amounts of pesticides.<br>Alternatively, the Dirty Dozen refers to produce items with the most amount of pesticide residues. Whenever possible, buy these organic." } }] } </script> <article> <div> <ul> <li><a href="#section1">What is the Clean 15 and the Dirty Dozen?</a></li> <li><a href="#section2">Clean 15 Foods (2019 Update)</a></li> <li><a href="#section3">Dirty Dozen Foods (2019 Update)</a></li> <li><a href="#section4">Dirty Dozen and Clean 15 FAQ</a></li> <li><a href="#section5">Dirty Dozen and Clean 15: Wrap Up</a></li> </ul> </div> <section> <p>It's good to buy organic. Avoiding foods made with pesticides and man-made fertilizers is good for our health<sup><a target="_blank" href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4456378/" rel="nofollow noreferrer">1</a></sup>.</p> <p>But since organic produce can be more expensive, it's valuable to know when going the organic route isn't as crucial. </p> <p>Fortunately, there's a way to tell when (and where) buying organic matters: <i>you can read the annually updated "Dirty Dozen" and "Clean 15" lists to make the most nutritional bang for your buck.</i></p> <p>Here's an explanation of each list, the 2019 updated versions, and answers to some frequently asked questions.</p> </section> <hr class="divider-50 divider-medium mx-auto"> <section id="section1"> <h2>What is the Clean 15 and the Dirty Dozen?</h2> <p>The "Clean 15" and "Dirty Dozen" are used to describe the <a target="_blank" href="https://www.ewg.org/foodnews/summary.php" rel="nofollow noreferrer"><i>Environmental Working Group</i></a> (EWG)'s recommendations for the types of produce that you should (or don't need to) buy organic.</p> <ul> <li>The <strong>Clean 15</strong> are the 15 fruits and vegetables that you <i>can</i> buy non-organic because they have lower amounts of pesticides.</li> <li>Alternatively, the <strong>Dirty Dozen</strong> refers to produce items with the <i>most</i> amount of pesticide residues. Whenever possible, buy these organic.</li> </ul> <p>In the next sections, you'll find the 2019 version of each list. (Note: produce items with links go to some of our favorite <a target="_blank" href="https://www.warriormade.com/content/diet/" rel="noreferrer">low-carb recipes</a> that incorporate each fruit or vegetable.)</p> <picture class="lazy-load"> <source data-srcset="https://d1ghrtdbdq2gkr.cloudfront.net/blog-content/clean-15-2019-list-0023.webp" type="image/webp"> <source data-srcset="https://d1ghrtdbdq2gkr.cloudfront.net/blog-content/clean-15-2019-list-0023.jp2" type="image/jpf"> <source data-srcset="https://d1ghrtdbdq2gkr.cloudfront.net/blog-content/clean-15-2019-list-0023.jpg"> <img src="https://d1ghrtdbdq2gkr.cloudfront.net/blog-content/clean-15-2019-list-LR-0023.jpg" class="img-fluid" alt="clean-15-2019-list"> </picture> </section> <hr class="divider-50 divider-medium mx-auto"> <section id="section2"> <h2>Clean 15 foods (2019 update)<sup><a target="_blank" href="https://www.ewg.org/foodnews/clean-fifteen.php" rel="nofollow noreferrer">2</a></sup>:</h2> <p>These fruits and veggies are okay to buy non-organic.</p> <ol> <li><a target="_blank" href="https://www.warriormade.com/content/diet/carbs-in-avocados" rel="noreferrer">Avocados</a></li> <li>Sweet corn*</li> <li>Pineapples</li> <li>Frozen sweet peas</li> <li><a target="_blank" href="https://www.warriormade.com/content/diet/homemade-pickled-onions/" rel="noreferrer">Onions</a></li> <li>Papaya*</li> <li><a target="_blank" href="https://www.warriormade.com/content/diet/roasted-eggplant-dip-baba-ganoush" rel="noreferrer">Eggplant</a></li> <li><a target="_blank" href="https://www.warriormade.com/content/diet/asparagus-gruyere-quiche" rel="noreferrer">Asparagus</a></li> <li>Kiwis</li> <li><a target="_blank" href="https://www.warriormade.com/content/diet/beef-and-cabbage-stir-fry" rel="noreferrer">Cabbage</a></li> <li><a target="_blank" href="https://www.warriormade.com/content/diet/sriracha-cauliflower-fried-rice" rel="noreferrer">Cauliflower</a></li> <li>Cantaloupe</li> <li><a target="_blank" href="https://www.warriormade.com/content/diet/broccoli-cheese-soup" rel="noreferrer">Broccoli</a></li> <li><a target="_blank" href="https://www.warriormade.com/content/diet/creamy-mushroom-and-spinach-chicken" rel="noreferrer">Mushrooms</a></li> <li>Honeydew</li> </ol> <p><i>*From the EWG website: A small amount of sweet corn, papaya and summer squash sold in the United States is produced from genetically modified seeds. Buy organic varieties of these crops if you want to avoid genetically modified produce<sup><a target="_blank" href="https://www.ewg.org/foodnews/clean-fifteen.php" rel="nofollow noreferrer">3</a></sup>.</i></p> <picture class="lazy-load"> <source data-srcset="https://d1ghrtdbdq2gkr.cloudfront.net/blog-content/dirty-dozen-2019-0023.webp" type="image/webp"> <source data-srcset="https://d1ghrtdbdq2gkr.cloudfront.net/blog-content/dirty-dozen-2019-0023.jp2" type="image/jpf"> <source data-srcset="https://d1ghrtdbdq2gkr.cloudfront.net/blog-content/dirty-dozen-2019-0023.jpg"> <img src="https://d1ghrtdbdq2gkr.cloudfront.net/blog-content/dirty-dozen-2019-LR-0023.jpg" class="img-fluid" alt="dirty-dozen-2019"> </picture> </section> <hr class="divider-50 divider-medium mx-auto"> <section id="section3"> <h2>Dirty Dozen foods (2019 update)<sup><a target="_blank" href="https://www.ewg.org/foodnews/dirty-dozen.php" rel="nofollow noreferrer">4</a></sup>:</h2> <p>Due to higher amounts of pesticides, buy these organic when you can:</p> <ol> <li>Strawberries</li> <li><a target="_blank" href="https://www.warriormade.com/content/diet/bacon-egg-and-spinach-casserole" rel="noreferrer">Spinach</a></li> <li><a target="_blank" href="https://www.warriormade.com/content/diet/sweet-smoky-bacon-maple-and-walnut-kale-salad" rel="noreferrer">Kale</a></li> <li>Nectarines</li> <li>Apples</li> <li>Grapes</li> <li>Peaches</li> <li>Cherries</li> <li>Pears</li> <li>Tomatoes</li> <li>Celery</li> <li>Potatoes</li> </ol> <p><i>Note</i>: this year's list also includes hot peppers (so technically, it's a Dirty Baker's Dozen).</p> <picture class="lazy-load"> <source data-srcset="https://d1ghrtdbdq2gkr.cloudfront.net/blog-content/dirty-dozen-clean-15-faq-0023.webp" type="image/webp"> <source data-srcset="https://d1ghrtdbdq2gkr.cloudfront.net/blog-content/dirty-dozen-clean-15-faq-0023.jp2" type="image/jpf"> <source data-srcset="https://d1ghrtdbdq2gkr.cloudfront.net/blog-content/dirty-dozen-clean-15-faq-0023.jpg"> <img src="https://d1ghrtdbdq2gkr.cloudfront.net/blog-content/dirty-dozen-clean-15-faq-LR-0023.jpg" class="img-fluid" alt="dirty-dozen-clean-15-faq"> </picture> </section> <hr class="divider-50 divider-medium mx-auto"> <section id="section4"> <h2>Dirty Dozen and Clean 15 FAQ</h2> <p>Here are some answers to popular questions asked about the Dirty Dozen and Clean 15.</p> <h3>1. Where does the data come from? </h3> <p>The EWG makes recommendations based on the Pesticide Data Program, a national pesticide monitoring group organized through the <a target="_blank" href="https://www.ams.usda.gov/datasets/pdp" rel="nofollow noreferrer"><i>United States Department of Agriculture</i></a> (USDA). </p> <p>According to the USDA website, their goals are to:</p> <ul> <li><i>"Enable the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to assess dietary exposure.</i></li> <li><i>Facilitate the global marketing of U.S. agricultural products.</i></li> <li><i>Provide guidance for the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and other governmental agencies to make informed decisions."</i></li> </ul> <p>Basically, the Dirty Dozen and Clean Fifteen spread awareness, ensure quality, and promote fair marketing practices<sup><a target="_blank" href="https://www.ams.usda.gov/sites/default/files/media/PDP%20factsheet.pdf" rel="nofollow noreferrer">5</a></sup>.</p> <h3>2. Why are pesticides unhealthy?</h3> <p>While pesticides help keep produce free of mosquitoes, other insects, and weeds, they may be toxic for human beings as well<sup><a target="_blank" href="https://www.who.int/topics/pesticides/en/" rel="nofollow noreferrer">6</a></sup>.</p> <p>According to the <i>Environmental Protection Agency</i> (EPA), pesticides can irritate your skin and eyes, affect your nervous system, and may impact your body's hormones levels<sup><a target="_blank" href="https://www.epa.gov/pesticide-science-and-assessing-pesticide-risks/human-health-issues-related-pesticides" rel="nofollow noreferrer">7</a></sup>.</p> <h3>3. How can I minimize pesticide exposure?</h3> <p>For starters, abide by the two lists mentioned above. Unfortunately, though, pesticides aren't just found on fruit and vegetables. They're also on meat, poultry, and eggs<sup><a target="_blank" href="https://www.fsis.usda.gov/wps/wcm/connect/2a40d63e-650d-4a68-af57-3a424eeddcc2/appendix4.pdf?MOD=AJPERES" rel="nofollow noreferrer">8</a></sup>.</p> <p>To minimize exposure, the <i>National Pesticide Information Center</i> (NPIC), says you should<sup><a target="_blank" href="http://npic.orst.edu/health/foodprac.html" rel="nofollow noreferrer">9</a></sup>:</p> <ul> <li>Eat a variety of fruits and vegetables (to minimize exposure to specific pesticides).</li> <li>Thoroughly wash produce, then dry it with a towel before eating it.</li> <li>Discard the outer layers of leafy vegetables, like lettuce or cabbage.</li> <li>Peel fruits and vegetables when possible.</li> <li>Trim fat and skin from meat and poultry.</li> </ul> <h3>4. Are blueberries on the dirty dozen list?</h3> <p>Not the 2019 version. But blueberries do usually make the list, so keep an eye out for this in future updates<sup><a target="_blank" href="https://www.localharvest.org/blog/48630/entry/the_usda_s_the_new" rel="nofollow noreferrer">10</a></sup>.</p> <p>For what it's worth, frozen blueberries rate slightly better on the pesticide list than fresh.</p> <h3>5. Are sweet potatoes on the Dirty Dozen?</h3> <p>Potatoes made the 2019 list, but not sweet potatoes. According to the <i>EWG</i>, sweet potatoes rank in the "Low to moderate pesticide residue" category<sup><a target="_blank" href="https://www.ewg.org/foodnews/summary.php" rel="nofollow noreferrer">11</a></sup>.</p> <p>Keep in mind, sweet potatoes <i>were</i> on the 2016 and 2017 list. </p> </section> <hr class="divider-50 divider-medium mx-auto"> <section id="section5"> <h2>Dirty Dozen and Clean 15: Wrap Up</h2> <p>It's good to buy organic when you can. But if you're on a budget—or just want to make more informed choices—check the Dirty Dozen and Clean 15 lists annually. </p> <p>This, along with best practice habits like washing and drying your produce (see FAQ "best practices" for more) are an <a target="_blank" href="https://www.warriormade.com" rel="noreferrer">investment in your health</a>—<i>and</i> the well-being of those around you.</p> </section> </article>

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