Your Guide to Reading Between the Tines

Healthy Produce on a Shoestring: When to Pay Extra

One of the ways to protect your health while working within a tight budget is to prioritize which items are most important to get organically or sustainably farmed.  The Environmental Working Group has identified 12 fruits and vegetables most contaminated with pesticides–these are the ones you don’t want to get in the store if you don’t know how they were grown.  Here’s an excerpt of the information on the EWG’s Dirty Dozen–just follow the link here to read the whole list.

Published October 2, 2008 in Epoch Times

More grocery stores are offering organic produce for customers who want to avoid pesticide residue.
Pesticides help protect crops by warding off damaging weeds, diseases, and bugs, but they also leave a residue on our produce. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, certain fruits and vegetables consistently carry much higher levels of pesticide residue than others, even after washing. Researchers at the nonprofit Environmental Working Group (EWG) tested these top offenders and dubbed them “the Dirty Dozen.” For these 12 foods, the EWG recommends avoiding pesticide residue by choosing organic versions.


Conventional apples are sprayed with 36 types of pesticides, and the EWG found that 91percent of tested apples were contaminated. Even peeling a conventional apple won’t completely eliminate chemical residue, so it’s best to buy organic. The two types of fiber in apples—soluble and insoluble—can reduce cholesterol levels and the risk of hardening of the arteries, heart attack, and stroke. Apples also keep blood sugar levels stable, and can help prevent kidney stones. Bonus: You’ll find that organic apples taste sweeter than conventionally grown.


Organic cherries are the healthy choice: 25 types of pesticides were found on 91percent of conventional cherries tested by the EWG. Organic cherries are a storehouse of vitamins C, B complex, potassium, and antioxidants. Research has shown that cherry consumption can help prevent heart disease and cancer, as well as provide pain relief and improve bone health.

Grapes (imported)

Imported grapes run a much greater risk of contamination than those grown domestically. Vineyards are sprayed with 35 different pesticides. No amount of washing or peeling will eliminate contamination, because of the grape’s thin, permeable skin. Seek organic domestic grapes and products made from them (such as wine and grape juice) for these health benefits: a decreased risk of heart disease and protection against high-fat diets.

That’s your teaser.  See if any of your favorite fruits and veggies made the list by eyeballing the rest of the list at the EWG site.

Even better, you can get a printable guide to take shopping with you at EWG as well to make sure you buy high-risk produce certified organic or from someone you trust.  Finally, don’t forget to keep on eye on canola oil, corn, and soy, as all three crops are commonly produced from genetically modified seed.

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  1. [...] I’ve spoken about this handy guide before, but the Environmental Working Group just updated their Dirty Dozen list for 2009.  They’ve reissued their handy pocket guide, which you can stick in your wallet and take to the grocery store to easily identify the twelve most contaminated and fifteen least contaminated fruits and vegetables.  For those who want to limit their exposure to pesticides without breaking the bank, it’s a good place to start! [...]

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