Enjoy Clean Eating With These Fruits and Veggies

Tips to eat the Clean Fifteen.

A mother and child in an organic garden.

(Jacob Lund / Shutterstock.com)

When you are going to the market for fruits and veggies, there is a large and colorful selection of fresh food. The question is, how can you select the healthiest items? Thanks to the hard work of a non-profit organization, you can determine which items are pesticide free so you can offer your family only the best. 

The non-profit Environmental Working Group (EWG) has released its annual Shopper’s Guide for 2023. Helping consumers choose the healthiest fruits and veggies, their Clean 15 lists the healthiest veggies with trace pesticide residues. This is important information for all, especially families with young children.

The EWG has been publishing their guide since 2004 by compiling data from the US Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) pesticide program, according to the website Eat This, Not That!. For 2023, they looked at the data of 46,000 samples, finding that 75 percent of the non-organic fresh produce had pesticide residues from over 251 different pesticides.

Opt for organic
If you find this alarming, do not cut back on your consumption of fruits and veggies! Instead, opt for organic or consult the list and hone in on the Clean 15. Another tip is not to overindulge in the EWG’s Dirty Dozen, foods that are most laden with pesticides. The top items here, for example, are strawberries and spinach.

 “None of us are eating the amount of produce that would have a significant effect on our health—for example, a woman would need to eat over 400 strawberries every single day to reach the levels of pesticide residue associated with potential risks,” dietician Lauren Manaker told Eat This, Not That!

Highlights of the Shopper’s Guide 2023, according to the EWG, include the fact that the USDA tests showed traces of pesticides that have been banned by the Environmental Protection Agency, yet are still in use. The good news is that almost 65 percent of the Clean Fifteen group had no detected pesticides.

 In fact, over ten percent of the Clean Fifteen has residues of just two or more pesticides, while less than two percent of sweet corn and avocadoes showed no detectable pesticides at all.

The Clean Fifteen
These are the foods that scored highest for 2023: carrots, watermelons, sweet potatoes, mangoes, mushrooms, cabbage, kiwi, honeydew melon, asparagus, frozen sweet peas, papaya, onions, pineapple, sweet corn, and avocados.

The first six items on the EWG clean list tested positive for no more than three pesticides, so focus on eating these.

The Dirty Dozen
In order to make the most informed decision, these fruits and veggies should only be purchased organic: strawberries, spinach, kale, collard and mustard greens, peaches, pears, nectarines, apples, grapes, bell and hot peppers, cherries, blueberries, and green beans.

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In fact, a single strawberry had residues of 22 different pesticides, according to Food Safety News. Some 90 percent of the blueberry samples were contaminated with toxic pesticides, some of which are linked to harming children and diminishing the bee population.

As the solution is to embrace the Clean 15, CNBC offers delicious ideas to serve these fruits and vegetables. For example, try avocado on toast for breakfast. For a main meal, make succotash by combining cabbage, beans, and corn. Or, combine onions, chickpeas, and garlic. For a sweet tropical treat, combine papaya, pineapple, and mango.

As everyone needs to eat fruits and vegetables each day to maintain health, the EWG’s newest list will help assist you to make the healthiest choices. Since this list also exposes improper uses of pesticides, it may help regulators ensure that in the near future, more fruits and vegetables will be grown in healthier ways.

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