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If you are trying to identify healthier foods to purchase, The Environmental Working Group (EWG) is a great resource.

Since its inception in 1993, EWG has fought for consumers’ right to live healthier lives in a healthier environment.

EWG’s first report, “Pesticides in Children’s Foods,” played a pivotal role in Congress’ passage of the Food Quality Protection Act in 1996. The law gave the Environmental Protection Agency the regulatory authority to ensure that the pesticides used in our food system do not harm our most vulnerable populations – infants and children. Subsequent EWG research found carcinogenic pesticides in baby food and weedkillers in Midwestern tap water.

EWG is proud to have played a role in this landmark legislation, but their work is far from done.

Conventional agriculture continues to use large quantities of toxic pesticides. As a result, USDA researchers detect pesticide residues on much of the fruits and vegetables they test. That’s why EWG updates their Shopper’s Guide each year.

They have put together a list called “The Dirty Dozen” and “The Clean 15” which they update annually. The “Dirty Dozen” is a list of the produce that tend to have the highest level of pesticide residue even after being washed and peeled. These products should be your priority for buying organic.

This year, the “Dirty Dozen” are, in order of most pesticide residue to least pesticide residue:

1. Strawberries

2. Spinach

3. Kale, collard, and mustard greens

4. Peaches

5. Pears

6. Nectarines

7. Apples

8. Grapes

9. Bell and hot peppers

10. Cherries

11. Blueberries

12. Green beans.

“The Clean 15” are the produce items with the least amount of pesticide contamination. So, if you can’t buy all your produce as organic, it’s safer to buy these items as conventional produce. Many of these have a skin or rind that is removed before eating so that tends to make them safer.

This year, the “Clean 15” are:

1. Avocados

2. Sweet Corn

3. Pineapples

4. Onions

5. Papayas

6. Sweet Peas

7. Asparagus

8. Honeydew Melons

9. Kiwi

10. Cabbage

11. Mushrooms

12. Mangoes

13. Sweet Potatoes

14. Watermelon

15. Carrots.

You can take a picture of these lists, or download the app from EWG.org on your phone, to help you when you are shopping.

For the sake of your good health, consume the least toxic and most nutritious foods you can afford.

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