Organic Produce, Sustainability, and Pesticide Awareness

The Clean 15 and Dirty Dozen is the expression of a concept in nutrition that categorizes fruits and vegetables based on their pesticide residue levels. The Environmental Working Group (EWG) annually publishes lists identifying which produce items have the highest and lowest pesticide contamination.

The “Clean 15” refers to fruits and vegetables with the lowest levels of pesticide residue when conventionally grown. These include items such as avocados, sweet corn, pineapples, onions, and cabbage. The “Dirty Dozen,” on the other hand, comprises produce items with the highest levels of pesticide residue, such as strawberries, spinach, kale, apples, and grapes. While the expression; ‘farm to table’ alludes to a healthier dining choice, knowing the particular farm’s practices is crucial to assuring that healthier choice!

Knowledge for Maintaining Optimal Health and Wellness is Power!

  1. Minimizing Pesticide Exposure: Consuming fruits and vegetables with lower pesticide residue levels reduces the risk of ingesting potentially harmful chemicals, which can have adverse effects on health over time.
  2. Cost-Effectiveness: By prioritizing organic options for produce on the Dirty Dozen list, individuals can allocate their budget more efficiently, as organic produce always tends to be more expensive.
  3. Supporting Sustainable Agriculture: Opting for produce with lower pesticide residues encourages sustainable farming practices that are less reliant on chemical inputs, benefiting both human health and the environment.
  4. Nutrient Density: While the focus is often on reducing pesticide exposure, choosing fruits and vegetables from the Clean 15 list ensures access to nutrient-dense foods that contribute to our overall health and well-being.

Is Putting Wax On Fruit an Outdated Technology?

No! Using wax to make fruit more visually appealing is still a viable practice. However, more recently, Chemical sprays like APEEL®, ( a Gates Foundation-funded product) have come on the scene promising grocery chains a ‘prolonged shelf-life’ for their own APEEL sprayed produce.  Chemical sprays like APEEL®, comprising pesticides, herbicides, fungicides, and other agricultural chemicals, pose numerous health hazards:

  • Acute Toxicity: Immediate exposure can lead to symptoms like nausea, vomiting, headaches, dizziness, and skin irritation, potentially culminating in severe respiratory or neurological complications.
  • Chronic Health Effects: Prolonged exposure correlates with various chronic conditions, including cancers (e.g., leukemia, lymphoma, breast cancer), reproductive disorders, developmental abnormalities, neurological issues, and respiratory ailments.
  • Endocrine Disruption: Many compounds disrupt hormonal balance, manifesting in reproductive problems, developmental delays, metabolic disorders, and other health complications.
  • Residue on Food: Despite washing, residues linger on produce, heightening the risk of ingesting harmful substances. Consistent consumption of high-residue foods escalates health risks.
  • Environmental Impact: Contamination of soil, water, and air imperils ecosystems and wildlife. Runoff from fields can degrade water quality, threatening aquatic life and human health.
  • Pesticide Resistance: Excessive use fosters resistance in pests and weeds, necessitating stronger chemicals and amplifying exposure risks.
  • Risk to Agricultural Workers: Direct exposure jeopardizes farmworkers’ health, mandating robust safety measures to mitigate risks.

Understanding the practices of a specific farm is crucial in ensuring the healthier choice implied by the “farm to table” concept, particularly in light of the Clean 15 and Dirty Dozen lists. This knowledge empowers consumers to make informed decisions about the produce they consume, highlighting the value of opting for organic produce to minimize exposure to harmful pesticides and support sustainable farming practices..

Citations / Photo Courtesy:

Environmental Protection Agency. (Year). “Human Health Issues Related to Pesticides.” Retrieved from: [URL].


World Health Organization. (Year). “Issues Related to Pesticides: Overview.” Retrieved from: [URL].

“Sustainable Practices” diagram graphic – [URL]

Written by 

Advocate for clean water, sustainable living, renewable energy, as well as a believer in healthy living, yoga, tiny homes, and the conservation of Florida's natural resources! ~ Florida is in my HEART & SOUL!