Frequently Asked Fridays: What is the Dirty Dozen?

EWG - Dirty Dozen

So what is the Dirty Dozen?

If you’ve never heard of this term before, you may be wondering what on earth the dirty dozen is! (And, no, it’s not referring to the movie, or the band!) The dirty dozen (plus) is actually a list of the twelve most toxic fruits and vegetables on the market.

This list is compiled by the Environmental Working Group (EWG) for the benefit of consumers. Every year, both domestic and imported produce is tested to determine the twelve fruits and vegetables which will make the list. Dirty refers to the amount of toxic pesticide residue detected on the samples.

So are you saying all produce needs to be organic?

Not necessarily… The dirty dozen list was created to inform consumers about the top twelve most toxic conventional fruits and vegetables. There is no doubt that these twelve should be purchased organically if possible.

But a contrasting list has also been created to show some of the cleanest conventional fruits and vegetables on the market. It’s called the Clean Fifteen. Fortunately, some crops require few if any pesticides to flourish, and so there is minimal toxic pesticide residue found on these crops.

To read more about the Environmental Working Group and the dirty dozen 2014 list, click here. These lists are worth becoming familiar with, or even printing off to take grocery shopping. Here they are.

The Dirty Dozen (Plus) List – 2014






Hot Peppers

Kale/ Collard Greens

Nectarines (Imported)



Snap Peas (Imported)



Sweet Peppers

The Clean Fifteen List – 2014













Sweet Corn

Sweet Peas (Frozen)

Sweet Potatoes


Do you try to purchase organic produce off of the dirty dozen list? Do you have a local organic farm that you love buying from? Or do you grow your own organic veggies? For more information on saving money by growing a vegetable garden, check out this post.

4 thoughts on “Frequently Asked Fridays: What is the Dirty Dozen?

    • Thanks for checking out this post! I still think that it is best to support local organic farmers, or grow your own, but for those who have to choose, its a great help!
      I’m not sure how applicable this is outside of the US and Canada. I know that farming practices vary greatly between countries. From my understanding, Australia and New Zealand have much tighter regulations than North America regarding farming. 🙂

      • Yes, i was curious to know if we have a similar list in Australia and to compare the differences between countries. It would be interesting to know if they varied!

      • It would be very interesting! I read somewhere that it would be better for us to buy apples from New Zealand rather than conventional apples from Canada, because even with the thousands of km they traveled, they would still be ‘greener’, considering all of the environmental pollutants used here! I wish I could remember where I read that….

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