EWG’s 2019 Shopper's Guide to Pesticides

EWG’s 2019 Shopper's Guide to Pesticides

Before WWII, farmers relied on moon cycles, crop rotation and farmed in much simpler ways without the use of synthetic pesticides. They farmed the way nature intended; what we now call “organic farming”. But today, pesticides are one of the biggest threats to our health.


Pesticides are toxic by design. They are chemicals designed to kill living organisms — insects, weeds, mold and fungi that are considered “pests.” The EWG's analysis of U.S. Department of Agriculture data found that two-thirds of conventionally-grown produce has detectable pesticide residues.

The average person eating non-organic produce consumes approximately 16 pounds of chemical pesticides every year.

They are found in the umbilical cord blood of babies, breast milk, and in urine and blood samples as determined in research conducted by the Environmental Working Group and reported by the Center for Disease Control.


Many pesticides pose health dangers to people. Different pesticides have been linked to a variety of health problems, including brain and nervous system toxicity, cancer, skin, eye and lung irritation, increased risk of Parkinson’s disease, neurodevelopmental effects, hormone dysfunction and infertility in both men and women. And while there are not many studies on the long-term effects of pesticide residues on healthy adults, it is best to minimize your exposures when possible.


Studies have shown that washing your produce can reduce the pesticide residue, but won’t eliminate all pesticides. In fact, depending on the fruit or vegetable, more than 100 different chemicals can be left as a residue, even after washing thanks to their water-resistant chemicals that allow them to withstand rainwater in the fields.

In a study by the Environmental Working Group, they found at least one pesticide on 63% of the produce sample size they analyzed—even after being properly washed—and 10% of the sample had residue from 5 or more various pesticides.

Washing produce is important to remove dirt and other nasties (learn my how-to here), but pesticide residues remain even when you wash them because they absorb into the flesh, which are then eaten by you — the consumer. Pesticides are applied directly to the foods you eat and remain there even after food is washed, cooked and, in some cases, peeled.

For this reason, I still choose organic produce as much as possible, especially when I’m buying produce from the Dirty Dozen list.


Simply put, if you don’t want to eat pesticides, choose organic! It’s better for you and the planet. But when you can’t afford organic, you can buy less-contaminated conventional produce. The EWG’s Guide to Pesticides in Produce ranks produce based on the amount of pesticide residue found on them. This guide helps you avoid the Dirty Dozen, the non-organic fruits and vegetables that are highest in pesticide residues – and choose non-organic items from the Clean Fifteen list.

Dirty Dozen:

7. Peaches

8. Cherries

9. Pears

10. Tomatoes

11. Celery

12. Potatoes

1. Strawberries

2. Spinach

3. Kale

4. Nectarines

5. Apples

6. Grapes

Clean Fifteen:

9. Kiwis

10. Cabbages

11. Cauliflower

12. Cantaloupes

13. Broccoli

14. Mushrooms

15. Honeydew Melons

*Source: EWG.org

1. Avocados

2. Sweet Corn

3. Pineapples

4. Sweet Peas Frozen

5. Onions

6. Papayas

7. Eggplants

8. Asparagus

Keep in mind that the Environmental Working Group releases an updated Dirty Dozen and Clean Fifteen every year to help you make informed choices when you're grocery shopping.

What’s your best tip for saving money while shopping healthy and organic? Share it with the NS Community in the comments below!

Do you want to learn more ways to clean up your food and avoid toxins in your home environment? My Fresh Start Cleansing Program is a great way to hit a 'reset button' and get the tools, strategies, and support you need to experience your fullest expression of health. Learn more about the upcoming program here.



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