Top 12 Pesticide-Contaminated Fruits and Vegetables

growing greens in window box in Chicago garden.png
The Environmental Working Group, a nonprofit that is focused on public health, lists twelve fruits and vegetables that they call the "Dirty Dozen" because they reportedly contain 47 to 67 pesticides per serving. 
The "Dirty Dozen" are:
Domestic blueberries
Sweet bell peppers
Spinach, kale and collard greens
Imported grapes
The group suggests avoiding purchasing these fruits and vegetables if they've been conventionally grown and instead opting for organic. Yes, buying and eating organic fruits and vegetables is ideal, but not always financially feasible. At least not for me. Instead of buying organic, why not learn to eat seasonally and grow some of the fruits and vegetables in your garden yourself? 
From the "Dirty Dozen" list I'm growing: strawberries, bell peppers, spinach, kale, potatoes, lettuce and collard greens. And you know what? I'm growing them in a container garden (both traditional and repurposed plastic containers) on a porch that is roughly the size of a jail cell. You can too. When you're growing your own fruits and vegetables in your garden you can be sure you know exactly how they were grown. Plus, it has been fun showing my nephews and niece that they're favorite vegetables don't come in plastic bags from the grocery store. They sowed the seeds that resulted in seedlings that will mature and produce a harvest. They've being growing with their vegetables all along the way.
If you have the space try gardening in raised beds. You can lighten the amount of soil you use in containers, and the cost, if you create a false bottom in large containers


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  • I'm growing the same things, except strawberries, and a few others (peas, beans, squash, carrots, turnips, and beets if a furry thing hadn't beat me to them), mostly in containers. I can't wait to taste collard greens. I also have mustard greens. My maters are pretty much the only veggie in the ground, due to aforementioned furry things (who knew raccoons liked beets and peas?). What are your potatoes in? Mine are in a plastic storage tote that I drilled holes in. ($3 after Xmas at HD).

    I wonder whether peaches that will be canned are as overly-treated? I have a huge weakness for canned peaches (just call me Al Swearengen!)

    Finally, do you mind if I steal your pop bottle false bottom and pop bottle watering photos to add to my ppt presentation for my containers class?

  • In reply to gardenfaerie:

    I'm growing beans, a squash, carrots and some other things too. Mine potatoes are in milk crates and a storage tote too.

    No, go ahead and use the pic. Thanks for asking.

  • Mr BT,
    Kudos again for the glorious Salvia River/Lurie Garden post.
    Yeah, I figured out how to log in & swear that I'm on top of it now! (pathetic techie that I am).
    Re: the 'dirty dozen,' I get so bummed out when I think about the pesticide issue. My husband eats tons of raw food, and I was able to get him to switch to organic apples once he realized his intake of bad stuff was super-high because he ate so many apples.

    BTW, I've linked your blogroll to my new site:
    Would appreciate it if you'd add my new site to the ChicagoNow roll!
    Thanks a bunch.

  • In reply to AliceJoyce:

    Congrats on remembering the login password. I don't eat as many apples so I'm not too worried about them. The reason I don't eat them much is because of the pesticides.

    Thanks for adding me to your blogroll, I believe you're already on mine.


  • In reply to AliceJoyce:

    Your lettuce planter is so pretty and colorful. It's pretty amazing how much produce can be grown in small urban and suburban spaces. It's wonderful your niece and nephews are learning and growing in the garden - they're lucky having you to share the experience with.

  • In reply to ssgardengirl:

    I'm going to post pictures of my other lettuce container. It is mush bigger. This is the one I let the kids play with. I've had lettuce coming out of my ears this year.

  • In reply to ssgardengirl:

    I usually grow and freeze most of my veggies. Check out this interesting response to the "Dirty Dozen" report by Jeff Gillman, University of Minnesota Horticulture Professor and one of the online "Garden Professors":

  • In reply to rwolford:

    Hi rwolford,

    Thanks for sharing that link. I read that blog but didn't see his response to the report. Very interesting and something everyone should read.

    What he says is main reason I've never fallen into the "buy organic" thing. I wish he would've gone into more detail and gave specific instances of what pesticides are often found on organic produce to enlighten us all.

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