The Dirty Dozen lists the 12 non- organic fruits and vegetables containing the most pesticide residue and to be avoided unless purchased organically. The Clean 15 list includes non-organic produce that is least likely to be contaminated by pesticides. Produce on the Clean 15 list usually have a thick skin, this allows the produce to protect its edible parts from pesticides, meaning it’s safer for eating and better for your health.

You may be wondering why you should you be worried or wary of pesticides on your fruit and vegetables?

The answer is that pesticides very purpose is to be toxic, they are designed to kill insects, plants and mould or mildew. Many pesticides have shown to be harmful to people at high doses and have even been linked to health problems such as hormone disruption, brain toxicity and cancer.

Studies have shown women's exposure to pesticides during pregnancy, measured through urine samples, were associated with negative impacts on their children's IQ and neurobehavioral development. A study looking at structural brain growth found the grey matter was thinner in children whose mothers had high exposure to organophosphates, which are used widely in pesticides.

Unfortunately, for us in Australia the lists are based on produce in the US, as no study quite the same has been conducted here in Australia. However, the few studies into the same topic in Australia surprisingly show considerable overlap.

It's important that lists such as these don't deter you from eating fruit and vegetables altogether. They are here to help guide us to make informed decisions about the food that we are putting in our bodies. They can also be used to assist in allocating a budget to the foods that should be bought organically, and which foods have less pesticides and chemicals and are ok to buy conventionally if your budget doesn’t stretch.

Alternatively, you could choose to eat more of the fruits and veg from the clean 15 list, and minimise or avoid consumption of the dirty dozen list, if buying organic produce is simply not practical for you.

If you find produce from the Dirty Dozen list hard to find organically, the Centre for Science and Environment state that 75%-80% of pesticide residue can be removed by cold water washing. While natural cleaning will certainly help to reduce the amount of pesticides you ingest, no washing method is 100% effective for removing all pesticide residues.

The only way to ensure you aren't being exposed to hazardous chemicals is to buy organic or grow your own! Ask Farmer Tim for tips on how to grow your own veggie garden. :)


The Dirty Dozen list for 2017:

  • Strawberries

  • Spinach

  • Nectarines

  • Apples

  • Peaches

  • Pears

  • Cherries

  • Grapes

  • Celery

  • Tomatoes

  • Capsicum

  • Potatoes

The Clean 15 contain the following produce:

  • Sweet Corn

  • Avocado

  • Pineapples

  • Cabbage

  • Onion

  • Sweet peas

  • Papayas

  • Asparagus

  • Mangoes

  • Eggplant

  • Honeydew

  • Kiwi

  • Cantaloupe

  • Cauliflower

  • Grapefruit