EWG Study: What You Should Buy Organic

The Environmental Working Group (EWG) recently completed its analysis of pesticide residue levels in conventionally-grown (non-organic) produce. From the results of almost 43,000 tests, EWG estimates that consumers could reduce their pesticide exposure by almost 90 percent if they avoid the most contaminated foods and ate only foods they identified as containing the least pesticide residue.

By eating the twelve most contaminated fruits and vegetables, nicknamed “The Dirty Dozen,”  the average person is exposed to 15 different pesticides each day, while someone eating the least contaminated will be exposed to fewer than two pesticides each day. (Get a pocket guide for the Dirty Dozen for free here.)

The Dirty Dozen: Top 12 Foods to Buy Organic

If you have budget constraints, your money is doing more for your health when you put it towards organic varieties of the following fruits and vegetables (listed in descending order, starting with greatest levels pesticide contamination): For help identifying organic foods in South Korea, read my post about organic labeling here.

  1. Apples
  2. Celery
  3. Strawberries
  4. Peaches
  5. Spinach
  6. Nectarines (not USA)
  7. Grapes (not USA)
  8. Sweet bell peppers / capsicums
  9. Potatoes
  10. Blueberries (USA)
  11. Lettuce
  12. Kale / Collard green

The Clean 15: Save Your Money & Buy Conventional

If buying only organic fruit and veg is too pricey, you can play it safe and eat the following conventional produce to minimize your exposure. These 15 foods have the least amount of pesticide residue when eaten (listed in ascending order, starting with of lowest levels of pesticide contamination):

  1. Onions
  2. Sweet corn
  3. Pineapple
  4. Avocado
  5. Asparagus
  6. Sweet peas
  7. Mangoes
  8. Eggplant
  9. Cantaloupe (domestic)
  10. Kiwi
  11. Cabbage
  12. Watermelon
  13. Sweet potatoes
  14. Grapefruit
  15. Mushrooms

Even though they are safer than the dirty dozen, when eating conventional foods peel away edible skins and outer leaves as pesticides are often concentrated there. Remember to wash all produce (conventional and organic) thoroughly with a natural fruit or vegetable cleanser. Peeling and washing will not only reduce pesticide exposure, but it may also result in the loss of valuable vitamins and nutrients (especially fiber).

To see EWG’s complete study results, and the rankings of 43 different produce items, visit their website, www.FoodNews.org. Article

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4 Responses to EWG Study: What You Should Buy Organic

  1. Salome says:

    This is great!! Thanks Frankie!! xx

  2. Salome says:

    How safe do you think the markets are? I have a big “farmers” market here in Daeyeon where I like to buy my stuff…do you think its any better than supermarket stuff?

    • VeganUrbanite says:

      Usually they will have organic labeling above their stall if they’re selling organic produce (as it’s an expensive and valuable certification).
      Otherwise I would assume it’s the same grade as the supermarkets, either from their farm or bought in bulk and sold on. But unfortunately, without talking with each producer yourself it’s tough to really know.
      But you can buy organic vegetables in most large supermarkets in bulk so that you avoid the excessive packaging by bringing your own bags.

  3. Jamey says:

    Thank so much for all the info!!
    Your site has been a tremendous help for our family :)


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