Lettuce is classified as one of the "Dirty Dozen," so wash it before consuming. (Photo courtesy of Flickr/Muffet)

The 'Clean 15 & Dirty Dozen' Foods List: How to Safely Consume Fruits and Vegetables

Charlotte Hofer

World Health Day is April 7, and the American Cancer Society wants to help you stay healthy by reminding you about the quality and safety of the food you eat.

Pesticides are helpful in boosting efficient plant yield and preventing insects from harming plant life. But concerns still arise over pesticides being used for produce consumed by humans, so here are some tips on how to avoid pesticide ingestion from the American Cancer Society’s health guidebook, Nutrition for Cancer Survivors (2010).

The “Dirty Dozen” is a list containing fruits and vegetables with the highest amount of pesticide residue. The “Dirty Dozen” list includes: peaches, apples, bell peppers, celery, nectarines, strawberries, cherries, kale, lettuce, imported grapes, carrots and pears.

The “Clean Fifteen” list, on the other hand, is made up of fruits and vegetables containing the smallest amount of pesticide residue. This list includes: onion, avocado, sweet corn, pineapple, mango, asparagus, sweet peas, kiwi, cabbage, eggplant, papaya, watermelon, broccoli, tomato and sweet potato.

But if your favorite fruit or veggie falls on the “Dirty Dozen” list, don’t worry; the Nutrition guidebook says you can still eat it --by just putting a little extra effort into preparing it. A Product Spray or Produce Wash can be used to help remove pesticides. These can be found in your grocery store, or you can make your own (recipes below). Even if your favorite foods fall on the “Clean 15” list, it never hurts to wash produce–all produce.

Produce Wash Recipe

1/2 cup white vinegar

3 tablespoons salt

Stir until salt is dissolved. Pour into sink full of water. Soak produce for 15 to 20 minutes. Rinse in cool water and pat dry.

Product Spray Recipe

1 tablespoon lemon juice

2 tablespoons baking soda

1 cup water

Spray produce; allow produce to sit for two to five minutes. Scrub produce, rinse and pat dry.

For more information on nutrition and staying well, visit the American Cancer Society at www.cancer.org.

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nikkitsoowonaibimorgan's picture
Submitted by nikkitsoowonaib... on
Of course, the best option is still to grow your own food organically. Using companion planting techniques, the use of pesticides and chemical fertilizers are unnecessary. If you’re worried about cancer, whether pesticides are used or not, there is a growing body of evidence suggesting that genetically-modified foods not only lack nutritional value but also are carcinogenic. Speaking of nutrition, fruits and vegetables from grocery stores have much less nutritional value than fruit and vegetables that are fresh from the plant or tree. When you buy these from grocery stores, they have been sitting in boxes for a week or more and have often travelled thousands of miles to get to your plate. By this time, the life force of the food is gone and the nutritional value is next to nil. For the best health and best chances of staying cancer and diabetes free throughout life, eat organic, fresh, local produce, and make sure that half of the food you consume consists of raw vegetables and fruits. When fresh fruits and vegetables are eaten raw, they have natural properties that help our bodies fight cancer. Happy eating!