If you’re new to clean eating, the term “Dirty Dozen” might sound foreign or just plain weird. The Dirty Dozen Plus is a list that the Environmental Working Group publishes every year of heavily pesticide-laden fruits and vegetables. These conventional fruits and vegetables have been tested by the USDA and have come back positive for high levels of at least one if not multiple pesticide residues. Some have come back with residue counts as high as 13-15 different pesticides per piece of fruit/vegetable! These fruits and vegetables are:
Sweet Bell Peppers
An easy way to remember if it’s on the dirty list is its skin. Is it soft or hard? Can it be peeled away? If you eat the skin, it’s likely that it is on the dirty list because the soft-skinned produce is more vulnerable to pesticides. Did you know that the average potato has more pesticides by weight than any other produce? I don’t know about you, but I find that disturbing! Hot peppers and kale/collard greens have been added recently in addition to the Dirty Dozen. The reason they were added is because these particular vegetables are commonly contaminated with organophosphates.
What are organophosphates?
Organophosphates are an extremely toxic pesticide that was found to be extremely dangerous to the human nervous system. They were actually banned and phased out of agricultural use in the 1970s and 80s. Unfortunately, these specific pesticides are still found in many farm fields.
the problem with pesticides
Pesticides are neurotoxic and endocrine disruptors. So, what do those big words mean? In simple terms, a neurotoxin is a substance that is poisonous or destructive to nerve tissue. They have been linked to memory problems, epilepsy, dementia, and even damage to the peripheral nervous system. An endocrine disruptor is a chemical that interferes with the endocrine system and can cause cancerous tumors, birth defects, and other developmental disorders. These pesticides aren’t just “bad for you.” These are serious forces to be reckoned with.
So what do i do?
When buying produce, I would recommend that you at least buy these specific foods organic rather than conventional. Consider the higher price an investment in your health. Spend a few extra dollars now instead of spending more money at the doctor’s office down the road. Your body will thank you for it. For more information, I highly recommend that you check out the Environmental Working Group.