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By Kristen Carli, MS, RD

The Dirty Dozen List™

Here at Suja Organic, we're uber passionate about the benefits of choosing organic produce whenever possible. Why? Well, besides boasting a farm-fresh taste, Organic products are typically grown without synthetic chemicals and certain pesticides, which many consumers find appealing and potentially better for the environment. 1

With this in mind, The Dirty Dozen list highlights twelve types of produce that, according to the EWG, tend to have higher pesticide residues. The purpose of this list? To help conscious consumers choose organic, especially when it comes to these items.2 So, let's dive into the lineup that made the cut for 2024.

The Dirty Dozen List™

Before we delve in, it’s important to note that The United States Environmental Protection Agency does regulate the use of pesticides, ensuring it abides by the Food Quality Protection Act (FQPA).3 Even though there are safety measures in place for consumers, we believe it’s still important to make informed decisions when it comes to buying produce and going organic, when possible.

PS: If you want to explore items with the lowest amount of pesticides, EWG also releases the Clean Fifteen, according to USDA data. Check it out below! 4

suja greens powder in bag with veggies

1. Strawberries

According to the EWG, the average American eats about eight pounds of strawberries on an annual basis, which isn’t a huge shocker. Strawberries make the perfect, juicy snack on a sunny day. So what makes strawberries one of the worst offenders? It's reported that some strawberry growers use various methods, including gasses, to manage pests and weeds. Because of this fact alone, it’s best to buy organic strawberries if accessible to you!

2. Spinach

We love a good leafy green like spinach — it’s low calorie, great for the gut, and packed with a plethora of vitamins, like A and C.5 Findings from The Cornucopia Institute suggest an increase in pesticide residues on spinach, highlighting the importance of careful washing and consideration of organic options. Choosing organic spinach and washing as thoroughly as possible is the best way to reduce pesticide exposure.

3. Kale, Collard, and Mustard Greens

Just like spinach, kale, collard, and mustard greens are staples in most of our wellness routines, and for good reason. Dark leafy greens typically contain a high amount of phytonutrients that may support immunity and digestion.6 Reports indicate a significant presence of various pesticides on these greens, leading to recommendations for choosing organic when possible.7 Next time you’re at the grocery store, aim to choose organic, if it is in your budget, when picking up these items!

4. Grapes

Did you know that grapes are one of the most widely grown fruits in the world, with 50% used in wine production? Studies indicate that conventional grapes often show detectable levels of pesticide residues.8

5. Peaches

A warm peach cobbler is practically irresistible, especially if those peaches are from Georgia! According to EWG reporting, 59 different pesticides were found in peaches and a single peach could contain up to 19 various strains—mainly Fungicides.9

6. Pears

Similar to peaches, pears are perfectly soft and sweet! Concerns about pesticide use on pears persist, particularly because their thin skin may absorb residues more readily. Based on EWG findings, six out of 10 conventional pears contained five or more pesticides.10

7. Nectarines

During spring and summer, biting into a plump nectarine might just hit differently. But we recommend choosing organic if possible. According to EWG, some apple growers use specific pesticides to prevent browning on the skin during storage.11

8. Apples

EWG reported that apples are sprayed with a pesticide that can prevent storage scald, which is browning on the skin. In Europe, there’s a restriction on this chemical, however, it isn’t as regulated in the U.S.12

9. Bell and Hot Peppers

Coming in “hot” at number 9, EWG indicated that 101 individual chemicals were found on conventional bell and hot peppers, stressing the significance of opting for organic when possible.

Curious about what types of pesticides are most commonly detected on the EWG’s Dirty Dozen™?

Four of the five that appear most frequently on the list are fungicides pyraclostrobin, fludioxonil, pyrimethanil, and boscalid. 13 Typically, these are used to keep mold at bay, post-harvest.

10. Cherries

Based on EWG reporting, over 90% of cherry samples contained two or more pesticides.14 Although cherries are irresistible in the summer months and accessible in most grocery stores, choose organic if it’s available to you!

11. Blueberries

According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Americans today are consuming three times the amount of blueberries since the mid-2000s.15 This is great news since blueberries are extremely nutrient-dense — high in fiber and a slew of vitamins.16 However, recent tests discerned that pesticides were found in 90% of blueberry samples. So when you can, opt for organic blueberries!

12. Green Beans

EWG claims that almost one in every dozen green beans does contain pesticides. In the most recent USDA green bean samples, almost 94 different pesticides were detected, adding up to double the amount found in 2016. To help minimize exposure to these pesticides, buy organic green beans when possible.

suja greens powder in bag with veggies

Don’t Do ‘Dirty’ Wellness

Reading labels and buying organic can be tedious while in the store, but it’s evident that choosing organic is important to potentially mitigate exposure to pesticides, as seen in The Dirty Dozen List™.

At Suja Organic, we make clean, organic wellness easy, accessible, and affordable. We’re extra picky about the produce we use and you’ll never get a product that’s not certified organic! If you’re itching to incorporate more greens in your diet that you can actually trust, try our Suja Organic Greens powder to get a full serving of vegetables, vitamins, and minerals your body craves. And if you always want automatic wellness available at your fingertips, choose to have it delivered to your doorstep. We’ll do all of the heavy lifting for you. Happy sipping!

Endnotes

  1. Better Health Channel. (2021). Organic food. https://www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au/health/healthyliving/organic-food
  2. Environmental Working Group. (2019). Dirty Dozen™ Fruits and Vegetables with the Most Pesticides. https://www.ewg.org/foodnews/dirty-dozen.php
  3. US EPA. (2018, March 7). Food and Pesticides | US EPA. https://www.epa.gov/safepestcontrol/food-and-pesticides
  4. Environmental Working Group. (2019). Clean Fifteen™ Conventional Produce with the Least Pesticides.https://www.ewg.org/foodnews/clean-fifteen.php
  5. 7 Reasons You Should Eat More Spinach. (n.d.). Cleveland Clinic. https://health.clevelandclinic.org/benefits-of-spinach
  6. Collard Greens: 5 Incredible Health Benefits Of This Green Leafy Vegetable. (n.d.). Netmeds. https://www.netmeds.com/health-library/post/collard-greens-5-incredible-health-benefits-of-this-green-leafy-vegetable
  7. Rapaport, L. (2024, March 26). Spinach and Berries Make The “Dirty Dozen” List of Produce With Most Pesticides. https://www.everydayhealth.com/diet-nutrition-pictures/dirty-dozen-fruits-and-vegetables.aspx
  8. Schusterova, D., Hajslova, J., Kocourek, V., & Pulkrabova, J. (2021). Pesticide Residues and Their Metabolites in Grapes and Wines from Conventional and Organic Farming System. Foods, 10(2), 307. https://doi.org/10.3390/foods10020307
  9. Group, E. W. (n.d.). EWG’s 2024 Shopper’s Guide to Pesticides in Produce™.https://www.ewg.org/foodnews/peaches.php
  10. Group, E. W. (n.d.). Pears, With an Extra Helping of Pesticides, Remain on the Dirty Dozen™. https://www.ewg.org/foodnews/pears.php
  11. Environmental Working Group. (2019). EWG’s 2019 Shopper’s Guide to Pesticides in Produce™. https://www.ewg.org/foodnews/summary.php
  12. Group, E. W. (2019, March 20). U.S. Apples Doused with EU-Banned Pesticides After Harvest. https://www.ewg.org/foodnews/apples.php
  13. Environmental Working Group. (2019). EWG’s 2019 Shopper’s Guide to Pesticides in Produce™. https://www.ewg.org/foodnews/summary.php
  14. Environmental Working Group. (2019). EWG’s 2019 Shopper’s Guide to Pesticides in Produce™. https://www.ewg.org/foodnews/summary.php
  15. Imports from Latin America make up a growing share of U.S. blueberry consumption. https://www.ers.usda.gov/data-products/chart-gallery/gallery/chart-detail/?chartId=93270
  16. Leech, J. (2018, October 9). 10 Proven Health Benefits of Blueberries. Healthline. https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/10-proven-benefits-of-blueberries

Disclaimer: This blog contains promotional content about our products. The information provided in this blog is for educational and informational purposes only and should not be construed as medical advice. While the nutritional information and health tips shared here are based on published studies and expert insights, they should not replace advice and treatment from a healthcare professional. Always consult a qualified healthcare provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition or health objectives.

By Kristen Carli, MS, RD


Kristen Carli is the owner of Camelback Nutrition & Wellness, a private nutrition practice and consulting firm. She graduated from University of Arizona with a BA in psychology and then received a BS in dietetics from Arizona State University. After completion of the dietetic internship, she continued her education by receiving a MS in Human Nutrition from University of Western States. Having a passion for nutrition communication, she writes for many food and nutrition outlets as well as regularly develops recipes for food brands and media companies. Her nutrition expertise has been featured in InStyle, Bustle, Livestrong, The List, MyFitnessPal and many others. Additionally, Kristen is often featured via local TV segments sharing nutrition tips and tricks. She was selected to act as a Produce for Better Health Foundation Fruit and Vegetable Ambassador in Action, helping to promote the health benefits and importance of consuming fruits and vegetables, as well as a FoodMinds upwaRD winner for 2022, honoring up and coming media dietitians. You can find her reading, running, and exploring new restaurants with her husband and baby boy.