Is the 'Dirty Dozen' produce list as dirty as we think?

Scientists question data of list
Posted at 5:58 PM, Jul 30, 2018

Have you heard of the "Dirty Dozen" list? Every year, it lists the 12 fruits and veggies that have the most pesticides. Now, one group of researchers says the list may be scaring people unnecessarily.

Laura Molina works to make sure her customers at her community market, Growhaus, pick the best fruits and veggies.

“We try to bring everything organic and local,” Molina said.

It ends up being a mix. So, when customers ask her how to pick between organic and conventional, she often gives them advice she takes herself.

“Everything that I can peel, I can buy, like, not organic,” Molina explains. “But like lettuce, mushrooms, apples, I try to buy them organic.”

But is there a set rule for choosing? Every year, a nonprofit called the Environmental Working Group puts out the "Dirty Dozen," a list of the 12 fruits and veggies most contaminated by pesticide residue.

This year, apples, celery and tomatoes made the list.

However, a group of scientists say these foods may not be as dirty as some once thought, and the way the EWG analyzed the data is flawed.

“The benefit of fruits and vegetables far outweighs the potential concern of this pesticide residue,” registered dietitian Jessica Crandall said.

Crandall says consumers would have to eat a lot of a certain fruit or vegetable to be affected by any pesticides.

“You would have to be eating so many cups,” Crandall said. “Like 400-plus cups of strawberries per day in order for that residue to be a potential concern if you're an adult. And if your kid, needs to be around 200 cups per day of strawberries.”

Those concerned about pesticides in produce can visit to check pesticide levels in any produce item.

Ultimately, the decision shouldn't be based on a list.

“I believe it is a personal choice,” Crandall said. “And so if you like the way that it tastes, better then to go ahead and consume. But if you're worried about the safety of it I don't think that's a concern you need to be aware of.”

Crandall and Molina both agree — no matter what you decide next time you check out, a good fruit or veggie is always a healthy choice.