The Environmental Group is out with its annual Dirty Dozen fresh fruits and vegetables and the Alliance for Food and Farming is countering the message as usual.

The EWG generally pushes consumers to buy organic fruits and vegetables while the AFF says it is important to eat fresh produce whether or not it is organic.

The position of the EWG
The Environmental Working Group bills itself as a nonprofit, non-partisan organization.

“Non-organic produce is loaded with fungicides that may harm human hormone systems” according to the Environmental Working Group’s 2024 Shopper’s Guide to Pesticides in Produce.

“Across fruits and vegetables from EWG’s Dirty Dozen – the Shopper’s Guide component that identifies the 12 non-organic, or conventional, fresh produce with the most pesticides – four of the five most frequently detected chemicals are fungicides: fludioxonil, pyraclostrobin, boscalid and pyrimethanil.  

This year, EWG determined — using a scattering of data from a USDA report — that 75 percent of all conventional fresh produce sampled had residues of potentially harmful pesticides. 

EWG’s 2024 Shopper’s Guide to Pesticides in Produce analyzes data from tests conducted by the Department of Agriculture and Food and Drug Administration on 47,510 samples of 46 fruits and vegetables. 

The EWG Shopper’s Guide also includes the Clean Fifteen, a list of the fruits and vegetables it says have very low or no pesticide residues. Almost 65 percent of EWG’s 2024 Clean Fifteen fruit and vegetable samples had no detectable pesticide residues.

“EWG recommends consumers seeking fresh produce with low pesticide residues buy organic versions of items on EWG’s Dirty Dozen and either organic or conventional versions of produce on the Clean Fifteen,” said EWG Senior Toxicologist Alexis Temkin. “There are also many organic and Clean Fifteen options in the frozen food aisle.”

This year the EWG’s Dirty Dozen are strawberries, spinach, kale and other select leafy greens, grapes, peaches, pears, nectarines, apples, bell and hot peppers, cherries, blueberries and green beans.

The EWG also publishes its Clean 15, which this year includes avocados, sweet corn, pineapple, onions, papayas, frozen sweet peas, asparagus, honeydew melon, kiwi, cabbage, watermelon, mushrooms, mangoes, sweet potatoes and carrots.

The Alliance for Food and Farming position
The AFF bills itself as a non-profit organization formed in 1989 to represent organic and conventional farmers of fruits and vegetables.

“It’s time for our annual  “A Dozen Reasons” list to celebrate the bounty of choices in the produce aisle and remind everyone why it’s so important to eat more fruits and vegetables for better health and a longer life,” according to a statement from AFF.

Nutrient-dense, delicious and filled with goodness, fruits and vegetables offer it all.  Plus decades of nutritional studies, mostly using conventionally grown produce, have shown that a diet rich in fruits and vegetables prevents diseases, improves physical and mental health and increases lifespan, according to the AFF.

Peer reviewed research has shown that if half of Americans increased their daily consumption of fruits and vegetables by a single serving, 20,000 cancer cases could be prevented annually,” according to the AFF.

“Choose the produce that you prefer and is affordable and accessible for you and your family. Organic and conventional – decades of studies and government sampling data show that both production methods yield very safe food that consumers can eat with confidence. And remember to follow the advice of the Federal Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and wash your fruits and vegetables. According to the FDA, washing produce under running tap water can reduce and often eliminate any minute pesticide residues, if present at all, as well as dirt and bacteria.

The AFF’s top fresh fruits and vegetables and reasons to eat them are apples, bell peppers, berries, cherries, grapes, green beans, leafy greens including kale and spinach, peaches, nectarines and pears, and to: improve mental health by promoting a greater sense of well-being; give your skin an attractive glow; and promote healthy weight maintenance.

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