Pesticides in Produce

Pesticides are used in crops to kill living organisms such as insects, rats, ticks and weeds. Many scientists agree that pesticides found in food and water present serious health risks, especially during fetal and early childhood development.


Exposure to pesticides can have short and long term health effects. These can range from headaches, dizziness, skin and eye irritation to impaired functions of the central nervous and endocrine system. Pesticide exposure also increases the risk of cancer.

Children of women who were exposed to pesticides are at an increased risk of Autism Spectrum Disorders. ADS disabilities can impair interaction, communication and learning abilities. ADS is often diagnosed within the first few years of life.

» Learn More About the Health Risks

The Endocrine System

Endocrinology or Endocrine System as a Concept

The endocrine system is a group of glands that secrete hormones that regulate reproduction, metabolism, growth and development, sleep, mood, tissue function and more. Pesticides can cause hormonal imbalances in the endocrine system which can harm the reproductive system, resulting in infertility. That is just one of many adverse health effects caused by a hormonal imbalance.

Early exposure also increases the risk of chronic diseases in adulthood. Pesticides have been linked to leukemia, lymphoma, breast, ovarian, brain, bones, liver, prostate and testicular cancer.

» show less

The Dirty Dozen Plus 

The U.S. Department of Agriculture tests thousands of fruits and vegetables for pesticide residue, many of which are cleaned and even peeled. The Environmental Working Group publishes a yearly report of the produce with the highest levels of pesticide residue, also known as the Dirty Dozen Plus.

Organic Stamp Shows Natural Farm Eco Food

In effort to lower pesticide exposure, you should buy these foods organic. Make sure to look for the USDA certified organic sticker. These foods must meet many standards, including the exclusion of harmful pesticides.

The full list of the EWG’s 2016 Shopper’s Guide to Pesticide Dirty Dozen list can be found here.


The lower the number, the higher concentrations of pesticide residues.

1. Strawberries


2. Apples


3. Nectarines


4. Peaches


5. Celery


6. Grapes


7. Cherries


8. Spinach


9. Tomatoes


10. Sweet bell peppers


11. Cherry Tomatoes


12. Cucumbers


Hot Peppers +


Kale / Collard Greens +


Copyright © Environmental Working Group, . Reproduced with permission.


The Clean 15

According to the 2016 EWG’s Clean 15 report, these foods are essentially free from harmful pesticides. The full list of the EWG’s 2016 Shopper’s Guide to Pesticide Clean 15 list can be found here.

1. Avocados


2. Sweet Corn


3. Pineapples


4. Cabbage


5. Sweet Peas (frozen)


6. Onions


7. Asparagus


8. Mangoes


9. Papayas


10. Kiwi


11. Eggplant


12. Honeydew Melon


13. Grapefruit


14. Cantaloupe


15. Cauliflower


Copyright © Environmental Working Group, . Reproduced with permission.
Leave comments, feedback or success stories below!



  1. Kisha

    Good to now information. I am currently trying to eat more clean. It was a bit unsettling that my favorite fruits ended up on the dirty dozen list with a higher concentration of pesticides. If its not one thing its another even trying to eat healthy we have to worry about what we are being fed.

    • Rachel

      I know what you mean, but the good news is that you can get these foods organic. Organic certified foods have to meet strict requirements that are verified by a USDA agent. These requirements involve production standards for growing, processing, storing, shipping and packaging. They can not be grown with fertilizers, food additives, pesticides, antibodies or with genetically modified seeds. Look for the USDA certified sticker for these foods and you are good to go 🙂 Hope this helps! Feel free to contact me anytime and I will be happy to address any questions or concerns you may have. Have an awesome day!

  2. Lynn Drew

    Thank you for changing my eating habits…immediately. :)) I am now headed for the USDA Certified Organic sticker produce isle. This is a fantastic website by the way. Your articles and pics are really very good.

    The Dirty Dozen list shocked me a bit, but when I went into the expanded 50 list, I was amazed as to how little I know about this subject. And I eat at least 25 items on the 50 list. I am going to make some changes.


    • That’s an excellent decision and organic produce really doesn’t cost that much more. I’m so happy I could help you, Lynn! If you have any questions, feel free to post away!!! Take care and stay healthy! 🙂

  3. Randy

    Hello there, thank you for this list. I have seen this before but it’s a great reminder for me and I’m happy to refresh my memory.
    I will definitely be buying organic from everything on the dirty dozen list.
    I never feel bad paying extra to support organic growers. I hope the demand helps more farmers to start growing organically.

    • admin

      I totally agree! Wouldn’t it be great if all produce met the certified organic standards? That would be amazing! I am all about supporting local farmers’ markets and businesses! Sometimes I find that the cost of of organic produce is actually cheaper at some places! That always makes it a win win! Bookmark it for future reference as it usually changes year to year. Thanks for visiting, Randy!

  4. I’m glad to see that avocados is a clean food. My daughter absolutely loves these. Unfortunately she also loves strawberries which is in the dirty dozen. Guess I’ll have to avoid giving them to her.

    • How old is she? 12 months/1 yr is a good time to introduce strawberries. I recommend that you just buy them certified organic. If she is at least 1, add small slices of bananas, strawberries and ground granola to some yogurt. She will LOVE it! Keep checking in because Stage 2 and finger foods are underway!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Comment moderation is enabled. Your comment may take some time to appear.