The 2023 EWG Dirty 12 & Clean 15 List
What’s “Dirty Dozen” and “Clean Fifteen?”
The Environmental Working Group (EWG) releases an annual list titled “Dirty Dozen” and “Clean Fifteen” to help consumers make informed choices about their produce purchases. The goal is to help people minimize their exposure to pesticides. The data is based on the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
The Dirty Dozen consists of fruits and vegetables with higher pesticide remnants, while the Clean Fifteen includes those with lower pesticide residues.
Ta-da! Here’s 2023’s List
Dirty Dozen (organic is highly recommended)
- Strawberries (this has been #1 for many years)
- Kale, Collard, & Mustard Greens
- Bell & Hot Peppers
- Green Beans
Clean Fifteen (organic is recommended, too, but non-organic is ok)
- Sweet Corn
- Sweet Peas
- Honeydew Melons
- Sweet Potatoes
Buying Organically is a Personal Choice
Buying produce and other food items organically refers to purchasing produce grown without synthetic pesticides, herbicides, genetically modified organisms (GMOs), or synthetic fertilizers. Organic farming prioritizes sustainability, soil health, and minimizing environmental impact.
If your budget allows, buying organically is encouraged, especially for the Dirty Dozen list. Even though the Clean Fifteen food items contain fewer pesticides, I’d still consider purchasing organic. However, acquiring organic products can be very costly, especially in Hawai’i. Nonetheless, I buy organic as much as possible for my health’s sake, a personal choice to ensure clean and healthy food is being digested in my body to reduce chronic inflammation and pain.
Seven Considerations When Buying Organic
Here are seven tips when buying organic food ingredients:
- Look for the USDA Organic Label: For those residing in the U.S., the USDA Organic label verifies that a product meets the organic standards set by the USDA. The label will be on food items and products that are considered organic.
- Shop at Farmers’ Markets: Local farmers’ markets may feature organic produce from nearby farms. This allows the consumer to communicate with local growers and ask questions.
- Read Product Labels: When purchasing packaged organic products such as frozen fruits or canned vegetables, read the labels to confirm they are certified organic and don’t contain non-organic additives or preservatives. Do your research. Not all organic foods are considered “organic.”
- Consider Your Budget: Organic produce can be more expensive. Refer to the EWG list to determine which fruits and veggies are worth buying organic if adhering to a strict budget.
- Buy in Season: Seasonal produce is often more readily available and affordable. It’s also more likely to be sourced locally, which helps reduce transportation and environmental costs.
- Join a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture): CSA programs allow customers to purchase a share of a local farm’s produce. Fresh, seasonal, and possibly organic foods are delivered regularly.
- Grow Your Own: Consider growing organic fruits and vegetables in a home garden or balcony (for apartment and condo residents). This enables complete control over the growing process.
Environmental Working Group (2023). Retrieved from: https://www.ewg.org/