The Top 12 Dirtiest Fruits and Vegetables

Keep out – We’re putting poison on your food. (photo by Jerry Burke)

Unless you’ve been living in a cave or perhaps Cuba, you’ve probably heard that buying organic produce is better.
The most important reason to buy organic is to avoid exposure to the toxic chemical pesticides and fertilizers used to grow commercial produce these days.

In case you’re wondering, pesticides have been linked to some serious health problems like Cancer, Birth Defects, Parkinson’s, Asthma, Autism, ADHD, and more.

A noticeable benefit to eating organic produce is that it often tastes better, even though it may not look as pretty. Some studies have shown that it can also have higher nutrient content.

Since 1990, the US Department of Agriculture has designated an Organic Certification for food grown without synthetic or toxic chemicals or fertilizers, genetic engineering, radiation, or sewage fertilizer.

Fun Facts!

-Genetically Modified Food (GMO) does not have to be labeled as genetically modified food.

-Processed food (like Organic Macaroni) is only required to have over 50% organic ingredients to carry the “certified organic” label.

Why is organic so expensive?

It costs farmers more money to grow organically.   The crops take longer to grow and are smaller.  Basically they produce less crops for the same amount of effort, which is why it costs more in a grocery store.  You’re paying for quality, not quantity.  Having said that, it’s usually cheaper to buy what’s in season, and always cheaper to buy directly from local farmers at a Farmers Market.

Here’s a picture of today’s modern farmer using weed-killer “Lasso”  made by Monsanto, the company responsible for wonderful products like Saccharin, Agent Orange, Polystyrene, PCBs, Round-Up and GMO seeds.

Every year the Environmental Working Group publishes a report of the most pesticide contaminated produce.

According to their 2010 report, you can lower your pesticide exposure by nearly 80% by simply avoiding the top 12 most contaminated fruits and vegetables.

These rankings are based on the pesticide levels reported by the FDA and USDA Pesticide Testing Program.
The metrics used to compile their list are here.

Generally produce with thin skin (like celery) is more apt to absorb pesticides than produce with thicker skin (like an avocado).
Note:  All the produce was washed before it was tested.  Here’s the list:


Produce you really need to buy organic

(Listed in order of worst to least, but they’re all bad)

Bell Peppers
Kale/Collard Greens
Grapes (Imported)


Relatively clean produce that isn’t critical to buy organic

(Listed in order of cleanest to dirtiest, but they are still the top 15 cleanest)

Sweet Corn (clean but not very healthy, skip it)
Sweet Peas
Sweet Potato
Honeydew Melon

You can see the complete list of 49 here.

When in doubt check the label

Organic produce will have a five digit sku on the sticker, conventional produce only has a four digit sku.

I snapped a pic of an organic plum (94040) and a conventional red onion (4082) below.


Silent Spring, written in 1962, is one of the most influential books about the ecological damage and toxic effects of chemically treated produce.  It was a major catalyst in the environmental and organic produce movement.

Cool Free Stuff!

You can download a wallet size version of the Clean/Dirty list here,
or a nifty little iPhone app

Chris Beat Cancer: A Comprehensive Plan for Healing Naturally, published by Hay House, is a National Bestseller as ranked by USA Today, The Wall Street Journal, and Publishers Weekly! Get it on Amazon here, or anywhere books are sold.

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