Since prop 37 did not pass in California, it is now an opportunity to educate ourselves as consumers and take  more responsibility for our own health. To help, each year the Environmental Working Group puts out a list of the foods with the highest and lowest pesticide residue to help shoppers determine which foods to buy organic and which it’s okay to buy conventional. Although ideally every shopper would be able to purchase organic fruits and vegetables, the reality is that organic often costs more at the store and just doesn’t fit into all budgets. With the EWG’s 2012 Dirty Dozen and Clean 15 Lists, health-concerned shoppers can get the most bang for their buck by minimizing their pesticide exposure while still saving money.

This does not mean that you are safe from GMO's (Genetically Modified Organisms). This list is only pertains to pesticides. To learn the difference, click here. But more than likely, produce that contains pesticides also has GMO's.

This year’s list reflects a few changes from last year, so be sure to pay attention—and take a copy of it with you to the grocery store!

sweet bell peppers Sweet bell peppers jumped from number 8 to number 3 on the 2012 Dirty Dozen list. So if you’re going to buy this veggie, be sure to buy organic! Photo By Janine/Courtesy Flickr.

2012 Dirty Dozen List: Foods to Buy Organic

1. apples 2. celery 3. sweet bell peppers 4. peaches 5. strawberries 6. nectarines (imported) 7. grapes 8. spinach 9. lettuce 10. cucumbers 11. blueberries (domestic) 12. potatoes

This year the EWG also mentioned green beans and leafy greens (such as kale) as additional foods that contain enough pesticide residue to warrant concern. The organization also added a note saying that shoppers who are concerned about genetically modified organisms (GMOs) should buy organic sweet corn, as GMO sweet corn is not labeled as such in U.S. stores.

2012 Clean 15 List: Foods Okay to Buy Non-Organic

1. onions 2. sweet corn 3. pineapples 4. avocado 5. cabbage 6. sweet peas 7. asparagus 8. mangoes 9. eggplant 10. kiwi 11. cantaloupe (domestic) 12. sweet potatoes 13. grapefruit 14. watermelon 15. mushrooms

For more information on pesticides and produce, check out the “EWG’s 2012 Shopper’s Guide to Pesticides in Produce.”

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