2021 Dirty Dozen and Clean Fifteen Produce Lists

The non-profit Environmental Working Group (EWG) is dedicated to protecting the environment and our health. That is why every spring, the EWG creates the Dirty Dozen and Clean Fifteen produce list. They measure the pesticide residue left on fruit and vegetables after they have been washed and peeled. The 2021 Dirty Dozen list includes the varieties of produce that had the highest concentration of pesticides. The Clean Fifteen list is the one with the least pesticide residue. Even after washing and peeling, the Dirty Dozen produce items still contained pesticides. Therefore, you should purchase organic fruits and vegetables from this list. These two lists always help me determine which produce items I buy organic.

2021 Dirty Dozen and Clean Fifteen Produce Lists

EWG’s 2021 Dirty Dozen™

  1. Strawberries
  2. Spinach
  3. Kale, collard, and mustard greens 
  4. Nectarines
  5. Apples
  6. Grapes
  7. Cherries
  8. Peaches
  9. Pears
  10. Bell and Hot Peppers 
  11. Celery
  12. Tomatoes


EWG’s 2021 Clean Fifteen™

  1. Avocados
  2. Sweet Corn
  3. Pineapple
  4. Onions
  5. Papaya
  6. Sweet Peas (Frozen)
  7. Eggplant
  8. Asparagus
  9. Broccoli 
  10. Cabbage
  11. Kiwi
  12. Cauliflower 
  13. Mushrooms
  14. Honeydew Melon
  15. Cantaloupe

2021 Dirty Dozen™ Changes

Strawberries have topped the dirty dozen list for several years now. So be sure to buy organic. In 2021, the EWB added collard and mustard greens to #3 on the list, along with kale. It is amazing that such superfoods as spinach and kale could harm you through pesticide residue if you do not purchase organic.  Cherries and peaches switched places this year, moving cherries up to #7 from previously being #8 in 2020. I don’t think you can peel cherries, so you best buy organic. Peppers moved from being #13 in 2020 to #10 in 2021, so less pesticide was found on them than last year. Celery remains #11. Amazingly, potatoes moved off the dirty dozen list this year. However, I would still be skeptical about purchasing potatoes that were not organic as they may still be in the top fifteen. 

2020 Dirty Dozen and Clean Fifteen Lists

2021 Clean Fifteen™ Changes

The Clean Fifteen list virtually remained the same, with a few items switching places. The first eight items on the list are identical from 2020 to 2021, but the last seven items moved around. Broccoli went from #11 up to #9 in 2021. Cabbage moved from #13 to #10. Kiwi moved from #15 to 11. But cantaloupe barely made the Clean Fifteen list as it moved from #10 to #15. 


Guidelines for Produce Not on a List

If a fruit or vegetable is not on the list and it has a thick skin that you can peel, like a banana, you don’t necessarily need to purchase organic. However, if you eat the fruit’s skin, like plums, you would want to buy organic. Unfortunately, since grapes are on the Dirty Dozen list, we should purchase organic wine too. Otherwise, we may be drinking pesticide residue. 

I hope you enjoyed the 2021 EWG’s update to the lists. Be sure to save the pins from this article on your phone so you can reference them when grocery shopping. 

~Pin for Later~

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