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Shop Smart: Know the Clean Fifteen and Dirty Dozen

What makes an apple dirty or clean? When heading to the market for fruits and vegetables, keep these two food lists in hand to get the freshest, healthiest picks.
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Each year, the Environmental Working Group (EWG) releases their two signature pieces of grocery shopping dogma for the health concious: the Clean Fifteen and the Dirty Dozen. These two lists help consumers shop smarter, choosing produce that is safer and more nutritious for them and their families.

But just what are these lists and why should you pay attention to them? Here are this year's lists and why you need to keep them close when shopping for groceries:

The Clean Fifteen
What makes a food clean? These foods are found to have little to no pesticides on them, making them safe to consume as a whole piece of fruit or whole vegetable. Research continues regarding the short term and long-term effects of pesticide exposure. The Clean Fifteen foods are:

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

While buying them organic certainly isn't a bad idea, this can be expensive. Give them a good washing before cooking or eat and you're good to go!

The Dirty Dozen
A food that is high in pesticides is considered dirty. These foods are typically those that you eat the skin of as well as the flesh inside. Buy them organic whenever possible and, as always, wash before consuming. The Dirty Dozen foods are:

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

Make sure to look for the USDA Organic Certification when shopping or ask an employee at your local market, health food store or grocery store to help you locate the organic items. You can find organic foods in more and more places now, which has helped make them more affordable.

Tips for Better Produce Handling
Here are some suggestions to help you stretch your produce, and your dollar, farther:

  • Put it in the fridge -- Herbs, apples, apricots and melons
  • Leave it on the counter -- Tomatoes, avocados (they turn to rocks in the fridge), peaches, pears and bananas
  • Invest in vegetable wash to remove any waxes or residue from all those handlers.
  • Take produce out of plastic or paper bags, which trap natural gas, called ethylene, and causing food to spoil. On the other hand, if you want to ripen a piece of produce faster, like an avocado, throw it in a paper bag!
  • Keep onions in the fridge to reduce eye burn when cutting.

Fruits and vegetables are essential components of a balanced diet, so make sure you're getting plenty of them. Got some food storage tips of your own? Share them with us at eVitamins!

 

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