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The Dirty Dozen is a list of the most contaminated vegetables and fruits with pesticides, published annually by the American EEC organization. It causes a real sensation, but it turns out that the ranking is not prepared reliably and we should be skeptical about it.

Research shows that as much as 43 percent all vegetables and fruits contain detectable levels of pesticides - substances used in agriculture to combat pests, diseases of crops and weeds.

Especially pregnant women and young children should watch out for them, as they pose the greatest threat to pesticides. Fortunately, there are some effective home remedies for getting rid of pesticide residues.

Dirty (dirty) dozen vegetables and fruits most contaminated with pesticides

EWG (Enviromental Working Group) publishes a list of the 12 most contaminated with pesticides in vegetables and fruits every year. The ranking - known as the dirty or dirty dozen - is based on the research of thousands of fruit and vegetable samples made by the US Department of Agriculture and the FDA (Food and Drug Administration).

In 2022, the list of vegetables and fruits most contaminated with pesticides included:

  1. strawberries
  2. spinach
  3. kale and cabbage
  4. nectarines
  5. apples
  6. grapes
  7. cherries
  8. peaches
  9. pears
  10. pepper
  11. celery
  12. tomatoes


In addition to the "dirty twelve", Enviromental Working Group is also preparing a "clean fifteen", that is a list of fruits and vegetables least contaminated with pesticides. These are: avocado, sweet corn, pineapple, frozen sugar peas, onion, papaya, eggplant, asparagus, kiwi, cabbage, cauliflower, cantaloupe melon, broccoli, mushrooms, honey melon.

Parszywa 12 - the list is not entirely reliable

One should be skeptical about the "dirty 12" list. Because of a few reasons. First, the Environmental Working Group (EWG) is not a research group. The EEC merely interprets the data previously collected by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA).

Second, the list is not prepared reliably. The degree of contamination is not taken into account, aonly his fact. There is also no differentiation in the degree of toxicity of the pesticides used.

Third, the samples tested are from America, not ours. American fruit and vegetables grow in a different climate, on different soil than ours. In our part of the world, other technologies and plant protection products are also used.

EWG recommends that vegetables and fruits belonging to the dirty 12 be purchased from organic food stores. This suggests that organic vegetables and fruits are pesticide-free, which is not true. Organic farming also uses pesticides, only other than conventional farming.

Although there is less pesticide residues in organic products than in products from conventional agriculture, this is a slight difference.

How much chemicals are in vegetables and fruits?

Consumers are often concerned about the presence of plant protection products in food. Meanwhile, the results of the national monitoring show that in half of the samples no residues of plant protection products are detected, and the remaining majority meet the legal standards (MRLs, maximum residue levels).


Worth knowing

How to avoid pesticides?

  • eat vegetables and seasonal fruits
  • buy local produce
  • wash vegetables and fruits thoroughly
  • if you have the conditions, set up your own fruit and vegetable garden

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