The dirty dozen and clean 15, 2018

Earlier today, the EWG released the 2018 Dirty Dozen and Clean 15 list. This is an annual study into the pesticides in our foods. Sadly, pesticides are common on conventionally grown produce, even after careful washing and peeling. While fruit and vegetables are an essential component in a healthy diet, research suggests that pesticides in produce may pose subtle health risks.

A recent study by the Journal of the American Medical Association found an association between consuming foods with high-pesticide-residue and fertility problems. Women who reported eating two or more servings a day of produce with higher pesticide residues were 26 percent less likely to have a successful pregnancy than those who at fewer servings of those foods. A similar study, carried out with men, found similar associations with reproductive health.


As the name suggests, the study highlights the foods that are the most ‘dirty’ with pesticides and those that are the cleanest. More than 98 percent of strawberries, spinach, peaches, nectarines, cherries and apples tested positive for residue of at least one pesticide; while a single sample of strawberries showed 20 different pesticides. Spinach samples had, on average, 1.8 times as much pesticide residue by weight than any other crop.


Those least likely to contain pesticide residues included avocados and sweetcorn, with less than 1 percent of samples showing any detectable pesticides, and more than 80% of pineapples, papayas, asparagus, onions and cabbage had no pesticide residues. As I noted in my blog about the 2017 list, fruit and vegetables that come in their own ‘jacket’ are usually the foods that do the best.

Hot peppers

As an exception, hot peppers don’t fit into the EWG’s traditional ranking system, but were found to be contaminated with insecticides toxic to the human nervous system.

Go organic

Relax; you don’t have to give up your summer strawberries or green smoothies. But, it’s highly recommended that you switch to organic to reduce your consumption of pesticides. True, organic food is more expensive, but armed with the lists of both clean and dirty food, you can choose organic when buying from the dirty list; whereas it’s not as essential for the cleaner foods.

The full list

Starting from dirty and moving to clean:

  1. Strawberries
  2. Spinach
  3. Nectarines
  4. Apples
  5. Grapes
  6. Peaches
  7. Cherries
  8. Pears
  9. Tomatoes
  10. Celery
  11. Potatoes
  12. Sweet bell peppers
  13. Cherry tomatoes
  14. Snap peas (imported to US)
  15. Lettuce
  16. Blueberries
  17. Hot peppers
  18. Plums
  19. Kale / collard greens
  20. Cucumbers
  21. Green beans
  22. Tangerines
  23. Raspberries
  24. Grapefruit
  25. Winter squash
  26. Carrots
  27. Oranges
  28. Summer squashes
  29. Snap peas (domestic US)
  30. Bananas
  31. Sweet potatoes
  32. Watermelons
  33. Mushrooms
  34. Broccoli
  35. Cauliflower
  36. Cantaloupes
  37. Kiwis
  38. Honeydew melons
  39. Eggplants / Aubergine
  40. Mangoes
  41. Asparagus
  42. Papayas
  43. Sweet peas (frozen)
  44. Onions
  45. Cabbages
  46. Pineappes
  47. Sweetcorn
  48. Avocados


For more information about the Dirty Dozen and Clean 15 list and the fertility studies carried out, visit the EWG site.