Which Fruits and Vegetables Made the “Dirty Dozen” List?

“The Dirty Dozen” isn’t just a movie made in the 1960s.
It is also a list of fruits and vegetables that have the highest amount of pesticide residue on them. The list is released each year by the Environmental Working Group (EWG). The annual list is a good reminder to take care in the washing of your aging relative’s fresh produce before using it to avoid illness.


Homecare in Lake Forest IL: The “Dirty Dozen” List

Homecare in Lake Forest IL: The “Dirty Dozen” List


What’s on the List?

The big surprise on the list this year was kale. About 92 percent of kale samples had residue from two or more different kinds of pesticide residues on them. The entire list is as follows:

  1. Strawberries
  2. Spinach
  3. Kale
  4. Nectarines
  5. Apples
  6. Grapes
  7. Peaches
  8. Cherries
  9. Pears
  10. Tomatoes
  11. Celery
  12. Potatoes

The list isn’t meant to discourage people from eating fruits and vegetables. Instead, it is a reminder that produce should be thoroughly washed before eating it.


Clean Produce List

The EWG also puts out an annual list of 15 of the cleanest fruits and vegetables. The fruits and vegetables on the clean list are:

  1. Avocados
  2. Sweet corn
  3. Pineapples
  4. Frozen sweet peas
  5. Onions
  6. Papayas
  7. Eggplants
  8. Asparagus
  9. Kiwis
  10. Cabbages
  11. Cauliflower
  12. Cantaloupes
  13. Broccoli
  14. Mushrooms
  15. Honeydew melons


How to Wash Produce

Just because the fruits and vegetables you purchase at the grocery store or farmer’s market look clean, doesn’t mean they are. You cannot see pesticides, so even the cleanest looking produce could be contaminated. Many people think it’s enough to just run some water over their produce, but there’s more to it.

According to the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA), approximately 48 million people get sick from contaminated foods each year. In fact, in the past year, there have been several outbreaks of foodborne illness linked to produce. For example, there were recalls of romaine lettuce, pre-cut melon, and other fruits and vegetables in 2018.


To prevent illness from contaminated produce, the FDA recommends taking these steps:

    1. Wash hands before handling produce.
    2. Cut away damaged or bruised parts of the produce.
    3. Rinse fruits and vegetables BEFORE pealing to prevent contaminants from transferring from the knife to the flesh of the produce.
    4. Rub the produce gently while holding it under running water. You do not need to use soap or a special produce wash.
    5. Scrub firm produce, like potatoes, with a clean vegetable brush.
    6. Dry the produce with a clean paper towel or cloth, which removes even more bacteria.
    7. Remove the outer leaves on heads of lettuce and cabbage.


Senior care providers can help your aging relative to wash the produce they bring home from the grocery store or farmer’s market. Senior care providers can also drive older adults to purchase produce. And, if your loved one has trouble cooking for themselves, a senior care provider can prepare meals and snacks for them.


If you or an aging loved-one are considering hiring Homecare in Lake Forest, IL, call the caring staff at LifeCare Home Health & In-Home Services. Call (888) 606-4199 LifeCare serves all of the Chicago Metro Area.





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