Explore Coverage

Living Maxwell


New “Dirty Dozen List” is Announced, Pro-Pesticide Groups are Outraged

The Environmental Working Group (EWG) just announced its revised version of the “Dirty Dozen”  – the 12 most pesticide-laden fruits and vegetables that people should avoid.

Interestingly enough, there has been an outcry calling for the EWG to cease publishing its Dirty Dozen List. I’ll get to this absurd demand in a minute.

Let’s first talk about the Dirty Dozen, and there are a few things to keep in mind:

1) In case you are shopping and can’t remember what is on the list, the basic rule of thumb is this: the fruits or vegetables that have nothing to be peeled off (no skin) generally have the most pesticides.

2) If money is tight and not everyone in the household can eat all organic, kids are the absolute priority. Their bodies are still developing and are very susceptible to the toxic dangers that synthetic pesticides present.

3) If you think that washing with water or scrubbing the fruits with a produce wash is going to take off the pesticides, do not be fooled. The pesticide is already deep inside of the cells of the food, and no wash is going to remove the chemicals.

I ALWAYS use a vegetables wash (Vermont Soap Organics is the only one I use and recommend) on my organic fruits and vegetables but it is to kill bacteria.

The Dirty Dozen

1. Apples
2. Celery
3. Sweet Bell Peppers
4. Peaches
5. Strawberries
6. Nectarines – Imported
7. Grapes
8. Spinach
9. Lettuce
10. Cucumbers
11. Blueberries
12. Potatoes

Plus, they added Green Beans and Kale/Greens.


One thing that you need to be aware of is that Big Ag, the chemical industry and industrial farming are very, very threatened by the continued growth of organic. It all comes down to profits, not their concern for your personal health.

One group, The Alliance for Food and Farming, has called for the Environmental Working Group to stop publishing its Dirty Dozen List.

Who is The Alliance for Food and Farming? Well, when you go to their website, it says that they “have a membership of approximately 50 farmers or farm groups who represent producers of U.S. fruit, vegetable and other specialty crops.” Not surprisingly, it fails to mention who exactly those groups are.

It also says that “the membership includes a wide range of operations from very large to very small and farmers who incorporate a wide range of farming methods including conventional and organic.” I have a call into this organization to see exactly who these organic farmers are but have yet to hear back.

And when you do more digging, you’ll see two things:

1) That it promotes another website, Safe Fruits and Veggies, whose sole objective is to present an opposite view of pesticides. The site says “repeated government testing has found that any pesticide residue that may be present on fruits and vegetables is so small that there is virtually no risk to you or to your children.”

2) At the bottom of Safe Fruits and Vegetables site, I found the following:

“The Alliance for Food and Farming is a non-profit organization comprised of both organic and conventional farmers.” (As I said, I have a call into them and am very eager to know who these organic farmers are.)

“Additional support for Safe Fruits and Veggies provided by the PMA.” (The PMA is the Produce Marketing Association.)

When you look at the Board of Directors of the Produce Marketing Association, it is completely stacked with companies growing or selling conventional produce.

I don’t recognize one name or organization on the board whose main purpose is to grow, sell or promote organic.


What does a truly independent organization, such as the President’s Cancer Panel (PDF File), have to say about the safety of pesticides? Two things.

1) Approximately 41% of the country is going to get cancer and 21% of the population is going to die from cancer. (A majority of cancer cases is environmental-related.)

2) The Panel says to choose “food grown without pesticides.” It obviously doesn’t believe that pesticides, even in small amounts, are safe.

It goes on to say that “Pesticides (insecticides, herbicides, and fungicides) approved for use by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) contain nearly 900 active ingredients, many of which are toxic.  Many of the solvents, fillers, and other chemicals listed as inert ingredients on pesticide labels also are toxic, but are not required to be tested for their potential to cause chronic diseases such as cancer.”


A few things:

1) Synthetic pesticides are not meant to be in our bodies, and I do everything I can to avoid them. Eaten repeatedly, small amounts accumulate into big amounts, and that is when real damage is caused.

2) Taking health advice from industry organizations who have a very serious financial interest in my food/lifestyle choices is something that I’ll take a pass on.

3) The Environmental Working Group is an organization that I trust completely, and they put out excellent information. If someone is trying to discredit them, that raises a real red flag for me.

A message from E3Live

"My Everyday, Must-Have Green Organic Aquabotanical"

The best testimonial that I can give is that I drink this every single day, as it impacts my mood in an incredibly positive way.

E3Live + BrainON is certified organic, fresh-frozen AFA (Aphanizomenon flos-aquae) with a concentrated, aqueous, organic extract of Phenylethylamine and Phycocyanin.

Learn more.

livingmaxwell: a guide to organic food & drink