“To be organic, or not to be organic”: That is the question.

So as promised in an earlier post, below I have provided a link to the “Dirty Dozen” and “Clean Fifteen” lists as comprised by the Environmental Working Group (EWG) in 2015. (To make life easier, you can keep this list with you in your wallet when grocery shopping.)


The EWG is an American, non-profit environmental research organization. One of its functions is that it works diligently to provide us with a list of produce with the highest pesticide loads.

Each of the foods on the Dirty Dozen list tested positive for a number of different pesticide residues and showed higher concentrations of pesticides than other produce items. The EWG suggests that pesticides found on the produce mentioned in the Dirty Dozen list remained on these fruits and vegetables tested by the USDA even when they were washed, and, in some cases, even peeled. Yuck! And in case you are wondering, pesticides have been linked to a variety of health problems including hormone disruption, brain toxicity, and yup, you guessed it…cancer!

Additionally, the EWG recognizes that even though many individuals may want to reduce their toxic overload and pesticide exposure, they may not be able to afford a completely organic diet. As result, the EWG has also produced the Clean Fifteen list in order to help individuals purchase fruits and vegetables that tested low for pesticide residues. Essentially, it’s wise to ensure that you choose to go organic when purchasing the fruits and vegetables that are listed on the Dirty Dozen list, especially if there are items that you or your family consumes a lot of (and this is a MUST if juicing any of these items regularly). Alternatively, you can opt for non-organic choices when it comes to the produce on the Clean Fifteen list. This makes things a little less painful on the wallets, right?

Also, not to add any additional stress, but although this information is beneficial to everyone that is concerned about limiting their pesticide exposure in general, this is extremely important for individuals fighting cancer and other immune compromising illnesses. The last thing we want to do is to further strain an already strained immune system. Cancer itself and cancer therapies (especially conventional ones) tax our bodies and immune systems. Whether you have already undergone or are currently undergoing chemotherapy, radiation, or alternative therapies, you definitely want to keep your immune system as strong as you possibly can. Remember, our immune system is our “bff” when fighting the “Big C”, so the last thing we want to do is piss it off by loading it with toxins, thereby suppressing our immune responses against infection and disease.

It’s also important (and sad) to note that the Dirty Dozen list has expanded over the years, now being referred to as the “Dirty Dozen Plus.” Basically, there are two types of food items that contain trace levels of highly hazardous pesticides: leafy greens such as kale and collard greens (make sure these are organic if you are juicing them), as well as hot peppers.

Although it’s based on American information, theses lists are very relevant to Canadians (and comprise the guidelines we should use when grocery shopping), given that roughly 80 per cent of our produce is imported, the majority of it from the U.S. Not to mention that Canadian standards seem to be a little weaker than our American and European counterparts. I think Canada needs to get a little tougher, EH?

Oh, and a handy little tip that has proved beneficial for me is to download the list to your cell phone, this way you will always have it on hand when you are grocery shopping. Ahh, technology!

Enjoy your clean fruits and veggies!


4 thoughts on ““To be organic, or not to be organic”: That is the question.

  1. Great info….both lists are now on my BB….won’t go shopping without consulting the lists!
    Sabrina thank-you so much for sharing:)
    Luv always Sandra


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