Have you heard the terms dirty dozen and clean fifteen floating around? Seen the 2016 dirty dozen posters and brochures? Have you wondered what it was all about? A group called the Environmental Working Group has set about to test the amounts of pesticide residue on the foods we eat. This project was created to inform the public about pesticides, where the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency fails to.
Every year the Environmental Working Group shares the Dirty Dozen (produce which contains the highest amounts of pesticide residues) and the Clean Fifteen (produce which contains the least amounts – or no – pesticide residues).
Why should I care?
We know pesticides have a very negative effect on our native bees and the environment, but that’s not all. Pesticides have been known to harm children’s brain development.
The PPR Panel found that acetamiprid and imidacloprid may adversely affect the development of neurons and brain structures associated with functions such as learning and memory. It concluded that some current guidance levels for acceptable exposure to acetamiprid and imidacloprid may not be protective enough to safeguard against developmental neurotoxicity and should be reduced. – European Food Safety Authority
Pesticides may play a part in ADD and ADHD. Regarding a study conducted by Harvard and the University of Montreal…
The sample included 1,139 children 8 to 15 years old, of which about one in ten met the criteria for ADHD, matching estimates for the general population. Researchers then measured the level of organophosphate “metabolites,” i.e. the chemicals that these pesticides break down into within the body, in these children’s urine. What they found was that as exposure increased, ADHD risk increased; a tenfold increase in exposure was associated with a 50% increase in risk of ADHD, which is considered very large. Again, the children in this study are not the children of farmworkers or residents of agricultural areas — they are “representative of the general US population.” – Grist
Women exposed to DDT are five times more likely to develop breast cancer. Seeing a dear friend fighting breast cancer, that just isn’t a risk that is worth it to me.
High levels of the primary component of DDT, in women exposed before mid-adolescence, were found to be predict a five-fold increase in breast cancer risk. Many American women heavily exposed to DDT in childhood have not yet reached 50 years of age, therefore the public health significance of DDT exposure in early life may be large. – The Public Health Institute
The 2016 Dirty Dozen
These are 2016’s dirtiest foods. You can grow many of these! Wouldn’t it be fabulous to enjoy these foods you love without the fear of pesticide residues?
The lower the number, the “dirtier” it is…
Can be grown in gardening zones 3-10. Considered ornamental and can be used as edible landscaping.
Can be grown in gardening zones 3-8. Dwarf varieties can be grown on small properties.
Can be grown in gardening zones 5-9. Dwarf varieties can be grown in containers.
Can be grown in gardening zones 5-8. Dwarf varieties can be grown in containers.
Can be grown in gardening zones 2-10. Hard to transplant and intolerant of heat, celery may be best to get from a local farmer.
Can be grown in gardening zones 2-10. Plants trained to grow vertically take up very little space. Also considered ornamental.
Can be grown in gardening zones 5-9, but it obviously takes quite a while to start growing cherries on your homestead. Since this is the first time cherries has made the dirty dozen list, it may benefit you to buy from a local farm instead of invest space at your home.
Can be grown in gardening zones 3-9. It’s quick rate of growth makes it ideal for succession planting.
Can be grown in gardening zones 2-10. Perfect for container gardens and one plant produces enough tomatoes for at least two people.
#10 Sweet Bell Peppers
Can be hard to grow in cooler climates. May be best to get from a local farmer.
#11 Cherry Tomatoes
Can be grown in gardening zones 2-10. Perfect for container gardens and one plant produces enough tomatoes for at two or three people.
Can be grown in gardening zones 4-11. Trellised cucumbers require very little space.
The 2016 Clean Fifteen
These foods have little to no pesticide residue. They are deemed the “cleanest” foods in the United States this year.
- Sweet Corn*
- Sweet Peas
- Honeydew Melon
* May contain GMOs. Buy organic.
Pull out your containers, make some space in the garden. The 2016 dirty dozen are foods you should focus on growing. If you’re new to gardening I highly recommend checking out The Vegetable Gardener’s Bible and The Organic Gardener’s Handbook of Natural Pest and Disease Control. Craftsy also offers some great online classes for beginner to advanced gardeners. A few that might interest you include Grow Better Greens: From Seed to Salad, The Extended Harvest: Vegetables for Every Season, and Vegetable Gardening: Small Techniques for Plentiful Results.