Earlier this year, the Environmental Working Group (EWG) released its annual 2013 Shopper's Guide To Pesticide In Produce. The list breaks down into both dirty and clean, and much is made of the "dirty dozen." Intuitively, most of us would guess that the risk of pesticide exposure would do most harm to pregnant women, babies and little children.

But what about the clean? After all, eating conventionally-grown produce is far better for you than not eating fruits and vegetables at all.

In the summer months, when produce abounds, it's time to celebrate those fruits and vegetables that you can feel free to purchase and consume with minimal risk.

The 'Clean Fifteen' Fruits and Veggies

  1. Sweet Corn
  2. Onions
  3. Pineapples
  4. Avocados
  5. Cabbage
  6. Sweet Peas
  7. Papayas
  8. Mangoes
  9. Asparagus
  10. Eggplant
  11. Kiwi
  12. Grapefruit
  13. Cantaloupe (domestic)
  14. Sweet Potatoes
  15. Mushrooms

Among its notable findings when researching these clean foods, the EWG found that fewer than 11 percent of pineapple samples had detectable pesticides.

In addition, roughly 78 percent of mango, 75 percent of kiwi, and 61 percent of cantaloupe had no residues whatsoever. No single fruit sample from the Clean 15 tested positive for more than four types of pesticides.

Finally, residues from multiple pesticides were found to be extremely rare on these 15 vegetables, with researchers detecting just one pesticide in seven percent of the samples.

In the following video, Dr. Chensheng (Alex) Lu, Associate Professor at the Harvard School of Public Health, explains why reducing pesticides in your family's diet is critical to reducing toxic effects.

Having noted the fruits and vegetables that are 'cleanest' when conventionally grown, it is necessary to look again at the list of those with the highest level of pesticide residue.

The 'Dirty Dozen' Fruits and Veggies

This summer, you may be able to lower your overall pesticide exposure by avoiding non-organic versions of these most contaminated fruits and vegetables:

  1. Apples
  2. Celery
  3. Strawberries
  4. Peaches
  5. Spinach
  6. Imported Nectarines
  7. Imported Grapes
  8. Sweet Bell Peppers
  9. Potatoes
  10. Domestic Blueberries
  11. Lettuce
  12. Kale/Collard Greens

In addition to pesticide-laden foods, genetically modified crops are another significant concern, especially to mothers; the GMO crops likely to be found in merican supermarkets include zucchini, Hawaiian papaya, and some varieties of sweet corn. Only a small fraction of zucchini and sweet corn in markets will be GMO, but most Hawaiian papaya falls into that category.

Since U.S. law does not require labeling of GMO produce, EWG advises purchasing organically-grown versions of these items if you wish to avoid GMO crops.

In this video, Dr. Sanjay Gupta of CNN tours a grocery store to identify which foods have the highest levels of pesticide residues.

Source: EWG's 2013 Shopper's Guide to Pesticides in Produce. Environmental Working Group. 2013.