I first learned about the dirty dozen many years ago when I had my kids. Although I wasn't vegan at the time, it was important to me that I fed the best possible food to my children. Through the years, I have refined what I consider a healthy diet to be a plant-based diet, but this is a good start for everyone.
I'm often surprised how many people haven't heard of this list. That's why I decided to write a short post about it. The dirty dozen are the worst 12 conventionally farmed fruits and vegetables that you can eat according to the EWG. They are the fruits and vegetables that have the most pesticide residue on them that doesn't really wash off. This year's list includes strawberries, spinach, nectarines, apples, peaches, pears, cherries, grapes, celery, tomatoes, sweet red peppers and potatoes. This doesn't mean that all the other fruits and vegetables are fine, it just means these are the worst twelve to remember. For a complete see the EWG's article on All 48 Fruits and Vegetables with Pesticide Residue Data
This list is an informational guide for consumers. The idea being if you can't afford to buy or find everything organic at least avoid the ones that are the worst for you. I think this guide is great, but it can unintentionally mislead consumers.
As far as vitamins and minerals are concerned, there doesn't seem to be a lot of different between the amounts in organic versus conventional product. There is however a big difference between the amount of phytonutrients. "There are 19-69% more phytonutrients in organic fruits and vegetables" according to Michael Gregor's research.
If you don't know what phytonutrients or phytochemical are, you aren't alone. They aren't listed on the back of cereal boxes or even listed in the nutrition facts on food labels.
Phytonutrients are thought to be the chemicals in plants that help them grow strong and protect them against the elements. Guess what? It's now hypothesized that these phytonutrients are also what protect our health. When produce is sprayed with pesticides, the plant no longer has to fight against the bugs and critters that try to eat it. The basic premise is that the plant is thus weaker because it didn't have to grow as strong and that's why it has less phytonutrients. When it comes to fighting dangers that face us like cancer, don't we want the strongest ammunition? If we are going to eat fruits and vegetables why not get the most possible health benefits?
I understand it's expensive, I really do. I have to budget all the time but I think my health is worth it. You can buy locally grown ORGANIC fresh produce to save some money. Check out your local farmers market. Last week I went out to the Westport Farmers Market I bought so much wonderful organic produce for $40!
You will also notice savings elsewhere especially if you eat only plant-based. I don't have to buy expensive face creams to make my skin look healthy. I also don't spend a lot of time or money on doctors or prescription drugs. Each of my children have only had antibiotics once in their lives! If you do have to choose though, please remember the dirty dozen.