[Environmental] Dirty Dozen & Clean 15

May 4, 2022

Last month, we celebrate Stop Food Waste Day by learning ways to reduce domestic food waste. Aside from saving foods from the garbage bin, know how to support organic products strategically would also benefit both the Mother Nature and ourselves. Hence, here introducing to you the Dirty Dozen & Clean 15 concept.

What are “Dirty Dozen and Clean 15”?

“Dirty Dozen and Clean 15” is a research-based, peer-reviewed list of crops with the highest amount (hence dirty) and least amount (hence clean) of pesticide residue. This list is generated and updated annually by Environmental Working Group, a nonprofit organization based in Washington, D.C., by analyzing the Pesticide Data Program report from the United States Department of Agriculture. The objective is to raise awareness of pesticide contamination and help customers make informed and smart choices.

How can I make smart choices based on “Dirty Dozen and Clean 15”?

Supporting organic farming and its product is an effective measure to reduce the harm to our environment and combat climate change. However, a 100% organic lifestyle may not be realistic for everyone in economic terms, hence, knowing which items to prioritize may help many of us make a better choice. 

To minimize the impact on both the environment and own health, customers are advised to prioritize organic products for “Dirty Dozen” as they are the most contaminated with pesticides. On the other hand, “Clean 15” are the least contaminated, therefore, are of less concern when organic is not an affordable option.  

Dirty Dozen & Clean 15 List for 2022

Dirty DozenClean 15
SpinachSweet corn
Kale, Collard & Mustard greensPineapple
GrapesSweet peas (frozen)
Bell & Hot peppersAsparagus
CherriesHoneydew Melon
Sweet Potatoes
*The list is ranked from the highest to the lowest amount of pesticide residues.

Additional tips on reducing pesticide residues from diet

  • Consume a variety of fruits and vegetables to minimize exposure to one single pesticide.
  • Contamination can be skin deep. Always wash your produce thoroughly even if they are organic.
  • Washing fruits and vegetables in running water actually removes more pesticides than soaking them.
  • Scrub firm fruits and vegetables, e.g. melons, potatoes and carrots to remove more of the residues on the outer layer.
  • Rub soft produce, e.g. grapes, under running water.
  • Keep in mind that no washing method or time duration is 100% effective for removing all pesticide residues.
  • Excessive washing, soaking and heating may lead to significant nutrient loss, hence, try to strike a balance while staying clean! 


  1. The Environmental Working Group. Resources: Dirty Dozen and Clean 15. Available at: https://www.producemarketguide.com/2021-dirty-dozen. Accessed on 07Apr2022.
  2. United States Environmental Protection Agency. Pesticides and Food: Healthy, Sensible Food practices. Available at: https://www.epa.gov/safepestcontrol/pesticides-and-food-healthy-sensible-food-practices. Accessed on 07Apr2022.
  3. National Pesticide Information Center, Oregon State University. How can I wash pesticides from fruits and veggies? Available at: http://npic.orst.edu/faq/fruitwash.html. Accessed on 07Apr2022.