the "dirty dozen"

Let's talk about the dirty dozen! No, not the movie. What I'm referring to is the top dozen foods with the highest pesticide residue.

I recommend eating *all* your foods organic, whether it's a plant or animal flesh. The reason is very simple.

One of the primary reasons we develop disease is due to toxicity in our cells. We are bombarded with toxins all day, including polluted air, treated water, toxic hair, skin, kitchen and laundry products. Even clothes have toxins in them! So it's CRITICAL that we focus on detoxing our cells every single day.

Consuming nontoxic, alkaline foods and filtered water will go a long way to making sure that we have good health.

If you are a parent, pregnant, nursing, or have ANY health issues, you should eat only organic products. Pregnant women and nursing moms especially, because growing babies are exposed to most of the chemicals that mom consumes!

The Department of Agriculture comes out with an annual list of the dirty dozen foods. They analyze data about pesticide residue and rank foods based on how much or little pesticide residue they have. They estimate that we can reduce our exposure by 80% if we switch to organic when buying these twelve foods.

Do the benefits of eating fresh fruits and vegetables outweigh the known risks of consuming pesticide residue? It depends on your situation, but in general, yes. So, if you can't find your favorite fruit or vegetable organic, go ahead and eat it, washing it thoroughly, and peel it. There are some types of produce, however, that I recommend never, ever eating when it's not organic, including all types of berries, tree fruits and leafy greens. You can't peel a berry!

Ok, here's the list for this year:

  • Apples. More than 40 different pesticides have been detected on apples. This includes apple juice and apple sauce. Safer alternatives, if you can't find these organic, are watermelon, bananas and tangerines.
  • Celery. USDA tests have found more than 60 different pesticides on celery. Safer alternatives with a similar crunch include broccoli, radishes and onions.
  • Strawberries. Nearly 60 different pesticides have been found on strawberries. Safer alternatives include kiwi and pineapples.
  • Peaches. More than 60 pesticides have been found on peaches. Safer alternatives include watermelon, tangerines, oranges and grapefruit.
  • Spinach. Nearly 50 different pesticides.
  • Nectarines. 33 pesticides have been detected on nectarines. Instead, try pineapple, papaya or mango.
  • Grapes. Can have more than 30 pesticides. Rains also have high pesticide residue tests. Makes you wonder about wine!
  • Sweet bell peppers. Nearly 50 different pesticides have been detected.
  • Potatoes. More than 35 pesticides have been detected. Sweet potatoes are a better alternative with less chance of pesticides.
  • Blueberries. More than 50 pesticides have been detected. Other berry alternatives are also often contaminated.
  • Lettuce. More than 50 pesticides have been identified.
  • Kale and collard greens.. Safer alternatives include cabbage, asparagus and broccoli.
  • Also on the list is any fatty meat. Pesticides are found in the fat in animal flesh, and they are long-lived chemicals that accumulate in human fats. If you do choose to eat animal flesh, make sure it is organic or lean.

Milk (any dairy products really) must be included on this list! Twelve different pesticides have been identified in milk. Combine that statistic with the work that researchers like Dr. Campbell did in The China Study, and dairy products should be avoided always.

Coffee should also be included on the list. Many of the coffee beans we buy are grown in countries with lax regulations for use of pesticides. Look for the USDA organic label to ensure you're not buying beans that have been grown or processed with the use of harmful chemicals. Or go a step further and look for the Fair Trade Certified and Rainforest Alliance labels to ensure that your purchase supports farmers who are paid fairly and treated well. Also look for shade-grown varieties. That way, you know the coffee is being grown under the canopy of the rainforest, leaving those ancient trees intact, along with the wildlife that call them home.

Similar to coffee, there's no watchdog reporting on pesticides found in WINE, but grapes are among the crops that are typically heavily dosed with pesticides. Look for the label "organic wine", not "made with organic grapes" - those have sulfites added as a preservative.

Also like coffee, cocoa beans are grown across the developing world. Buying organic CHOCOLATE ensures your treat isn't harming the environment or workers elsewhere.

If the cost of buying all organic isn't within your budget, no worries. Check out The Daily Green's list of produce that is so clean of pesticides that you don't have to buy organic:

Of course, buying organic is always a good choice for the health of our planet, farms and farm workers, regardless of the residue left on the end product. But if you're interested in the list of produce that is least affected by pesticides, here's the "Clean 15" list:
Sweet Corn
Sweet peas
Cantaloupe (domestic)
Sweet potatoes