Do You Know the "Dirty Dozen?"

Organic apples Photo credit: Gudlyf, on Flickr

[Ed.: This article has been updated using the EWG's 2013 report, which adds two new "plus" vegetables to the Dirty Dozen this year. These do not not meet the Dirty Dozen criteria, but are commonly contaminated with pesticides toxic to the nervous system.]

As much as we would all like to shop organically, sometimes it can be expensive. If you’re on a limited food budget, you may have to pick and choose which organic produce to purchase. Fortunately, The Environmental Work Group has developed two lists to help you with your shopping choices. The first is the dreaded “Dirty Dozen,” a collective of conventionally grown fruits and vegetables that contain high levels of pesticides and should be avoided if you are interested in keeping your pesticide levels low:

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


  • Kale/collard greens
  • Summer squash

The top three on this list are the most egregious offenders with 98% of all apples sold in the U.S. containing pesticides. For example, celery has been shown to contain up to 57 different pesticides.

Genetically modified (GMO) crops are not commonly found as fresh produce, more often instead used in commodity or prepared foods, so they are not included in the list.

The flip side of the “Dirty Dozen” is the “Clean 15.” These items contain the lowest amounts of pesticides and are therefore fine for buying conventionally grown produce if you so choose.

  1. Aparagus
  2. Avocado
  3. Cabbage
  4. Cantaloupe
  5. Corn
  6. Eggplant
  7. Grapefruit
  8. Kiwi
  9. Mangoes
  10. Mushrooms
  11. Onions
  12. Papayas
  13. Pineapples
  14. Sweet peas - frozen
  15. Sweet potatoes

Want to have this list on the go? Donate a small amount to the EWG to get the complete guide to print and keep in your wallet, or download the iPhone app or the Android app for your smart phone.

First of all I would like to

First of all I would like to thank you for the stuff that you have shared. I was shocked to read the forgeries happening in the field or production of organic fruits and vegetables. I would love to recommend this to my friends. Thanks a lot.

Dirty dozen & clean 15

What about produce in Canada? ESP from Ontario and BC?

I can't speak to it, but

I can't speak to it, but perhaps I can get the good folks at Well Preserved to chime in.

Dirty Dozen in Canada

Hi guys!

The list for Canada is similar to the US - especially if you are buying retail since much of our fruit and veg (especially this time of year) is brought in from the US.

Having said that, here's a link to an article that interviewed the Canadian Food inspection Agency (undated) and asked for their list (

You'll see many of the same culprits/ cleans:

The Dirty Dozen Score* % with pesticides % with 2 or more pesticides
Peaches 100 96.6 86.6
Apples 96 93.6 82.3
Sweet bell peppers 86 81.5 62.2
Celery 85 94.1 79.8
Nectarines 84 97.3 85.3
Strawberries 83 92.3 69.2
Cherries 75 91.4 75.8
Lettuce 69 68.2 44.2
Grapes (imported) 68 84.2 53.2
Pears 65 86.2 45.7
Spinach 60 70 31.2
Potatoes 58 81 18

The Consistently Clean Score* % with pesticides % with 2 or more pesticides
Onions 1 0.2 0
Avocado 1 1.4 0
Sweet corn (frozen) 2 3.8 0
Pineapples 7 7.7 0.6
Mango 9 7.1 0.5
Sweet peas (frozen) 11 22.9 2.3
Asparagus 11 6.7 0.6
Kiwi 14 15.3 3.4
Bananas 16 41.7 2.0
Cabbage 17 17.9 4.8
Broccoli 18 28.1 3.2
Egglpant 19 23.4 6.9

Organic fruits and veggies

Great information on whats what with organic shopping. Thanks so much. I wonder if the farming is different on the west coast than the east as well.


I think this is definitely in broad strokes -- basically aiming for the mainstream supermarket shopper, so assuming most of this produce comes from more or less the same place, or using the same farming methods. I think big ag farms across the country are using the same chemicals, or if not the same, then equally harmful. At any rate, it's better to be safe than sorry.

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