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Which Organic Foods are Truly Worth the Investment - Darcy Proctor Wellness

Which Organic Foods are Truly Worth the Investment

By Darcy Proctor

Apr 17

We all want to choose the best foods for our family but our dollars can only stretch so far.  Is organic food really worth the extra money?The Environmental Working Group has just released their updated Dirty Dozen and Clean Fifteen lists to help you decide which foods are the best ones to buy organic.  The Dirty Dozen consists of non-organic produce found to contain the most chemicals and the Clean Fifteen includes those that have the least chemicals.

Below you will find the EWG’s 2018 Dirty Dozen and Clean Fifteen lists.   The Dirty Dozen PLUS list includes hot peppers which were also found to be contaminated with insecticides toxic to the human nervous system.  I recommend buying organic food as much as possible to limit your exposure to toxins, but when money is tight, these lists offer a great way to help you decide where you money is best spent.

Print out this handy guide for your next shopping trip




Key Findings of the 2018 Report (1)

  • A single sample of strawberries showed 20 different pesticides.
  • Spinach samples had, on average, 1.8 times as much pesticide residue by weight than any other crop.
  • 80% of apples tested contained diphenylamine, a pesticide banned in Europe.
  • Conventional potatoes had more pesticide residues by weight than any other crop.
  • No single fruit sample from the Clean Fifteen tested positive for more than four pesticides.


Pesticides are used on crops to control insects, invasive plants, and fungi, but what is the ultimate result on our health from using these chemicals to get bigger crops and more beautiful produce?   Pesticides have been linked to brain and nervous system damage, cancer, low fertility, and hormone disruption.  The effects on children are even more pronounced, yet the neurotoxic insecticide chlorpyrifos, which can harm children’s brains and nervous systems, was also found on samples this year.  This chemical is applied to apples, bell peppers, peaches, nectarines and other produce.  The EPA was supposed to ban this substance in 2017 but the decision was reversed despite urging from the American Academy of Pediatrics and the EWG.



Many of the chemicals found on the produce in this report are banned in other countries, such as permethrin, a neurotoxic insecticide found on spinach.  Iprodione, which is banned in Europe because it may cause cancer, was found on 30% of cherries tested.  Diphenylamine, also banned in Europe, was found on 80% of apples.  So why are we still using these chemicals in the United States??  Don’t worry, I won’t get on my soapbox about government and agriculture but I urge you to do your own research and make a truly educated decision on what food you choose to put into your own body and your family’s.


To limit your chemical exposure from pesticides:

  • Eat whole foods, not processed
  • Eat local foods, preferably from your local farmers and farmers markets
  • Plant your own garden.  There are a million creative ways to do this on Pinterest even if your space is limited.
  • Choose organic whenever possible or at least for the Dirty Dozen. In general, produce with a thin skin can easily absorb the pesticides sprayed on it and are therefore the “dirtiest”.  Produce with thicker skins, such as bananas, are usually safer because you peel off the skin that is covered in the pesticides.


For more information visit www.ewg.org