Health Advice



Environmental group adds 3 vegetables to its annual Dirty Dozen list

Susan Selasky, Detroit Free Press on

Published in Health & Fitness

“Last year, the Environmental Working Group (EWG) faced significant criticism from the nutrition community for inaccurately escalating and perpetuating consumer safety fears about these healthy foods as our world was locking down due to the pandemic,” Teresa Thorne, Executive Director of the AFF said in a news release. “EWG continues to dismiss the needs of consumers and disrespect farmers by choosing to inaccurately disparage the very foods health experts agree we should eat more of every day to improve immune function, prevent diseases and increase lifespan.”

They also point out that the USDA's Pesticide Data Program report finds that 99% of samples tested fell below the safety standards set by the Environmental Protection Agency. Additionally, more than 40% of produce tested had no detectable pesticide residue.

Only one in 10 Americans eat enough fruits and vegetables daily, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The CDC recommends that adults eat 1½-2 cups of fruit and 2-3 cups of vegetables per day.

The AFF also points to studies that found eating 5 servings of fruits and vegetables a day, may reduce the risk for certain diseases. Another Tufts University study found that prescribing fruits and vegetables would prevent nearly 2 million cardiovascular events such as heart attacks, 350,000 deaths and cut healthcare costs by $40 billion.

The AFF finds that the EWG's Dirty Dozen list creates fear and disparages consumers from buying — organic or not.

“With only one in 10 Americans eating enough fruits and vegetables each day, we should be promoting consumption to enhance immune function and prevent illness, not discouraging it with tactics like the Dirty Dozen list,” Thorne added.


Alexis Temkin, Ph.D., EWG toxicologist, says the group advises that eating a diet that is high in fruit and vegetables, organic or conventional and including frozen and canned, should be a priority.

"There is increasing evidence that low dose chronic exposure to mixture of pesticides may have adverse effects on human health, particularly during sensitive windows of development like pregnancy and childhood," Temkin said in an email to the Free Press.

EWG said they are aware that access and being able to afford organic is not always an option. That is why, they said, the group created its "Clean 15" shoppers guide.

While the EWG's list is based on USDA data, most pesticide residues detected fall within established government levels.


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