In organic produce circles, there’s a group called the ‘dirty dozen’. No, not that Dirty Dozen! The dozen fruits and vegetables you should always eat organic.
What makes the dirty dozen so… dirty?
While the name may sound quite menacing – and in some ways it is – the dirty dozen is actually a great example of the benefits of choosing organic fruit and vegetables. Put simply, it is the 12 fruits and vegetables that contain the highest traces of pesticides when grown using modern conventional farming techniques.
First published in 2004, and updated annually ever since, the dirty dozen is based on the results of tests conducted by US Department of Agriculture and US Food and Drug Administration. Put out by the Environmental Working Group (EWG), a non-profit advocacy group, the dirty dozen is designed to help educate consumers on the prevalence of, and dangers associated with, pesticide use in conventional farming.
What fruits and vegetables make up the dirty dozen?
In 2020, the dirty dozen is:
As part of the 2020 report, the EWG also noted that:
- half of the dozen was found to have residue of two or more pesticides in over 90% of tests
- spinach and kale samples had both the largest number of residues (there were multiple samples where 18 different pesticides were detected) and the highest concentration of residues by weight of any of the crops tested
- some of the papaya, sweet corn, and squash sold in the US was grown from genetically modified seeds
- while they usually only include fresh fruit and vegetables, they found the biggest issues with raisin, almost all of which (99%) were found to have residues of at least two pesticides
Farming standards are different in Australia, but we share many of the same issues regarding the use of harsh chemicals and genetically modified materials. According to Friends of the Earth in Melbourne, the most sprayed Australian fruit and vegetables (highest residue levels) from the worst down are:
- Green Beans
These lists are great reminders of the importance of going organic for your fruits and vegetables.
Where can I buy organic fruit and vegetables in Sydney?
In Australia, there are no restrictions on who can use the word ‘organic’. As such, the best way to make sure that your organic fruit and veg is, in fact, organic, is to buy directly from an organic farmer. But you live in a large city, like Sydney, this is probably not realistic, so try the next big thing – look out for products that are ‘certified organic’. This means they have been independently assessed by a government accredited body and found to meet the Australian standards for organic food production.
There are also health food stores that specialise in certified organic produce – like Wholefoods House. We stock a wide range of organic produce – including a great selection of seasonal organic fruit and vegetables. We also love working with local small-scale farmers to bring their high-quality produce to the people of Sydney.