Is this Peach Safe to Eat?

By Darragh Worland – first published on on Monday, May 17, 2010 6:30 AM ET

An environmental group offers advice on when (and when not) to buy organic.

Chances are you’re already well aware that eating organic fruits and vegetables can reduce the risk of getting cancer and other diseases. But, geez, that grocery bill could give a person a heart attack! Well, as it turns out, some of us just might be going overboard.

According to the Environmental Working Group (an organization of scientists, researchers and policymakers), while certain types of organic produce can reduce your exposure to harmful toxins by as much as 80 percent, there’s some produce that won’t harm you at all, even if it isn’t — gasp! — organic.

The group put together two lists of fruits and vegetables, called “The Dirty Dozen” and “The Clean 15,” designed to help consumers identify where they can save a little green, reports The lists were compiled using data from the US Department of Agriculture on the amount of pesticide residue found in non-organic fruits and vegetables after they had been washed.

The so-called “Dirty Dozen” list tested positive for at least 47 different chemicals, with some testing positive for as many as 67 (egads!) Here’s where you’ll want to buy organic:

  • celery
  • peaches
  • strawberries
  • apples
  • domestic blueberries
  • nectarines
  • sweet bell peppers
  • spinach, kale and collard greens
  • cherries
  • potatoes
  • imported grapes
  • lettuce

The good news is that some produce grown conventionally showed no trace of chemicals. The following “Clean 15” are safe to consume even when not grown organically:

  • onions
  • avocados
  • sweet corn
  • pineapples
  • mango
  • sweet peas
  • asparagus
  • kiwi fruit
  • cabbage
  • eggplant
  • cantaloupe
  • watermelon
  • grapefruit
  • sweet potatoes
  • sweet onions

Notice anything special about the produce on the safe list? They’ve all got some kind of protective skin that shields the edible parts from the harmful toxins in pesticides.

In a pinch, you can always thoroughly wash your produce to reduce your exposure, where organic products aren’t available. And, bear in mind that the USDA only tested the produce for this study after pressure washing each item.

The full list contains 49 types of produce, rated according to pesticide residue. Check it out at

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About Carolyn Scott-Hamilton

The Healthy Voyager, aka Carolyn Scott-Hamilton, is the creator and host of The Healthy Voyager web series, site, and overall brand. An award winning healthy, special diet and green living and travel expert, holistic nutritionist, plant based vegan chef, best-selling cookbook author, media spokesperson, sought after speaker, consultant and television personality, Carolyn Scott-Hamilton is a respected figure in the world of healthy lifestyle and travel as well as special diet cooking and nutrition. The Healthy Voyager aims to help people live well, one veggie at a time!

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