The dirty secret behind the “Clean Fifteen”

On Monday, I told you about how widespread pesticides are in the produce you get at the grocery store. Even after they’ve been washed, many of the common fruits and vegetables you eat every day still have high levels of chemicals. For a list of the worst offenders, according to the latest research by the Environmental Working Group (EWG), read A hidden health threat .

On the flip side of that coin, the EWG also put together a list of the least-contaminated produce items. They call it the “Clean Fifteen” list, and it includes the following:

  • asparagus
  • avocado
  • cabbage
  • grapefruit
  • corn on the cob
  • cantaloupe (domestically grown)
  • kiwi
  • watermelon
  • mango
  • eggplant
  • pineapple
  • mushrooms
  • onions
  • peas
  • sweet potatoes

Unfortunately, just because these items were less contaminated than the “Dirty Dozen” doesn’t mean they’re 100 percent safe. Testing revealed that even these so-called “clean” foods had up to five different types of pesticides. (And don’t forget some of them–like corn, peas, and the tropical fruits–also contain significant amounts of sugar and/or starch. So these items are best eaten occasionally–no matter how “clean” they are.)

There must be a way to deliver healthy food to our population without poisoning them along the way. Oh wait–there is. It’s called organic farming. And until it becomes the norm, keep shopping at your local farmer’s market. It’s the best source for pesticide-free produce.