Buying Organic - Dirty Dozen and Clean Fifteen 2019
The Environmental Working Group's 2019 "Dirty Dozen and Clean Fifteen" list of fruits and vegetables with the most/least pesticide residue was released earlier this month. The best way to avoid harmful pesticides that can act as endocrine disruptors (chemicals which can interfere with the body's hormone systems) and potentially increase cancer risk is, where possible, to opt for organic versions of the produce on this list.
If you're shopping on a budget it can be tempting to choose non-organic produce because of lower cost. However, some foods contain far more pesticide residues than others and may have a greater risk of adverse effects on health, so the lists are helpful when prioritising which organic products to buy.
The lists can be found here EWG
Of course, the EWG's report is specifically concerned with vegetables and fruits in the USA. While some of this is certainly transferrable worldwide, or at least indicative of what some of the most problematic fruits and vegetables might be, you may be wondering what the situation is with fruits and vegetables within the UK. Fortunately the Pesticide Action Network UK have devised the "Best & Worst Food for Pesticide Residues" table, PAN-UK .
It is tempting to overlook this information about the pesticides in our food and somehow think it doesn't apply to us, so to see these figures for pesticide residues in UK foods is quite sobering. It certainly prompted me to change my habits when buying not only veg and fruit but also items such as cereal products, homegrown oils such as rapeseed (a commonly sprayed crop in uk). I would encourage anyone to seriously consider buying organic where possible or indeed to take control of your veg/fruit supply by growing your own.