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Avoiding the 2014 Dirty Dozen Fruits and Vegetables

If the term “dirty dozen” sounds unfamiliar, here’s a quick overview. The dirty dozen are the top twelve foods identified each year by The Environmental Working Group as having the highest levels of pesticides when they arrive in store. Although pesticide levels are set by the USDA and fruits and vegetables are typically washed prior to their arrival at your local produce store, many fruits and vegetables can still have residual levels of chemicals. In fact, up to 65% of produce can still contain pesticides. But which types of produce are the worst offenders? Here’s the breakdown of the 2014 Dirty Dozen:

  1. Apples
  2. Strawberries
  3. Grapes
  4. Celery
  5. Peaches
  6. Spinach
  7. Sweet bell peppers
  8. Nectarines
  9. Cucumbers
  10. Cherry tomatoes
  11. Snap peas
  12. Potatoes

At the top of the list, apples are by far the worst offender – with a whopping 99% of conventional apples testing positive for at least some type of pesticide residue. Grapes, a fan favorite with kids, can have up to fifteen types of pesticides on one single piece, something all parents should be aware of. On the far side of the spectrum, many thick-skinned types of produce have lower levels of pesticides, including pineapples, mangoes and eggplant. Choosing produce lower on the list can be an alternative if pesticide-free produce is not readily available or affordable. Avoiding food high in pesticides can help reduce the risk of certain diseases, including Alzheimer's and Parkinson's disease, autism and endometriosis. However, this is not a reason to avoid the fruits and vegetables on this list entirely, as this may leave a hole in your body’s intake of essential vitamins and minerals. Instead of avoiding, focus on finding organic, GMO-free produce – so you and your family can enjoy all the benefits of a rounded diet, without the drawbacks of residual pesticides. If you absolutely have to purchase produce from the list, make sure you wash thoroughly before consuming. Removing the peel can also help reduce residual pesticide levels. Along with fresh fruits and veggies, it’s important to consider processed foods that include produce from the dirty dozen list. Apples are used as a base for many types of juice and fruit snacks, so choosing organic versions will help cut down on you and your family’s intake of pesticides. Finding healthy alternatives to Dirty Dozen offenders, including processed foods, doesn’t have to be a challenge. If you can’t find organic options in the produce section, check the frozen food aisle – for example, organic frozen strawberries and peaches are very easy to find. In our continued commitment to healthy and delicious food, 22 Days Nutrition bars and protein powders are 100% organic. That means they have all the nutritional benefits that nature has to offer without damaging pesticides or GMOs.