You probably wouldn’t pick up a head of lettuce directly off the grocery store shelf and take a bite, would you? No, absolutely not! It’s dirty, and would probably taste like, well, dirt. So why do so many of us forget to wash our produce when we get home?
There is a laundry list of tactics grocery stores employ to keep produce looking its best, and unless you’re buying completely organic, you’re playing a literal game of Russian roulette with contaminants every time you neglect to give your food a good rinse.
There are some fruits and veggies, though, that are far worse than others when it comes to holding on to all of those potentially harmful chemicals. Every year, the Environmental Working Group (EWG)—which is, by the way, a great resource for keeping on top of the healthiest products for you and the environment—releases its Dirty Dozen. This list is a who’s who of the most chemical-laden produce, and can help you determine which of your favorites are worth shopping organic for.
The 2019 list included:
It’s kind of scary that some of the most commonly purchased fruits and vegetables made this list, huh? Although it’s a little unnerving, there’s really no need to panic. The light at the end of the tunnel is that all or most of these items are probably available organic at your local market, which means they should be much more pesticide-free than their non-organic counterparts.
These are all foods we deem healthy, and, don’t get us wrong—they are. But it’s important to consider the facts before you buy just any old bunch of kale. According to EWG, 92 percent of the kale samples in a USDA test reported pesticide residue. And while kale is just one example, it’s a good idea to be vigilant.
The next time you’re shopping for fruits and vegetables, consider buying from a local farmers market, which are more likely to be organic than those imported from outside the US or even from other states. Or, simply read the sticker and keep an eye out for the “organic” symbol.
And also, wash your produce… please.