George and Julia's Vegan Underground

The Dirty Dozen 2012

Every year the Environmental Working Group (EWG) puts out a list of the “dirty dozen” fruits and vegetables.  These are the fruits and vegetables that generally contain the most pesticides. The EWG suggests that you only buy organic versions of this filthy fare.  When I was standing in line at the Park Slope food coop, I got into a “discussion” with fellow member and friend (Bendix) about blueberries.  He reminded me that there was a “new” dirty dozen put out this summer and that I’d better check it before I go shooting my mouth off.  After scolding a woman on a cell phone for cutting in line, I got to thinking, Bendix had a reasonable request for this vegan icon.

In addition, Julia and I had recently returned from Los Angeles and had some great dialogue with friends and family about fruit and vegetable safety.  Many people believe that buying from a local farmer is just as good, if not better than buying organic.  I suppose it depends on the farm.

So here it is… The Dirty Dozen.  It’s similar to previous years but there were a few surprises.  In addition, they added two extras making it the Dirty Dozen Plus (the Dirty 14 just doesn’t have the same ring to it):

Dirty Dozen Plus™ (Buy these organic)

  1. Apples
  2. Celery
  3. Sweet bell peppers
  4. Peaches
  5. Strawberries
  6. Nectarines– imported
  7. Grapes
  8. Spinach
  9. Lettuce
  10. Cucumbers
  11. Blueberries – domestic
  12. Potatoes

+ Green beans and Kale/Greens

Oh apples, you’ve topped the list again.  I was a little surprised that domestic blueberries made the list and not imported.  Also try buying organic grapes, they are about 8-10 bucks a pound!

As someone who regularly drops serious bank on these organic versions, I’m always interested in what foods don’t necessarily need to be organic.  Luckily, the EWG also put out the “Clean 15” which list the fruits and vegetables lowest in pesticides.

Clean 15™ (Lowest in Pesticide)

  1. Onions
  2. Sweet Corn (Commonly GMO so still buy organic corn)
  3. Pineapples
  4. Avocado
  5. Cabbage
  6. Sweet peas
  7. Asparagus
  8. Mangoes
  9. Eggplant
  10. Kiwi
  11. Cantaloupe – domestic
  12. Sweet potatoes
  13. Grapefruit
  14. Watermelon
  15. Mushrooms

It’s not a shocker that the fruits and vegetables with the thickest skin, tend to the cleanest.  I was surprised cabbage and asparagus was cleanish which I would think to be similar green bean/kale family.

The Full List can be found here:

But what about GMO’s (Genetically Modified Organisms)?  I will save that for another day.  Just know this: 

  • 100% Organic – means 100 % organic and GMO-free.
  • Certified Organic/USDA Organic/Organic-is 95% organic & usually GMO-free
  • Made with Organic – up to 70 % organic and typically NOT GMO-free.

Organic meats often use casing from GMO animals to make it’s sausages.  Organic egg producers often buy chickens from non-organic farms.  To make matters worse, the whole Organic industry is not properly monitored and so it’s probable there’s serious deception out there.  Gary Null went to South America to investigate organic foods and found that almost none of it was actually organic.  “Healthy” soybeans and canola oils are almost always GMO’s.   This is a huge can of worms and highlights a clear need for GMO labeling which almost happened in California.  I’m tired of being a science experiment.  New York, it’s time to step-up with our own GMO labeling bill.  If we can control soda intake what’s a friendly assault on our agricultural industry.  C’mon NYC, show the world that we will, once again be the first and watch as the rest of the country follows.


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