The Dirty Dozen

Have you heard of ‘The Dirty Dozen’?

The Dirty Dozen is a list of 12 fruits and vegetables which have been found to contain the highest levels of pesticides. The aim of these lists, which are updated yearly, is to inform consumers about which fruits and vegetables to prioritise when buying organic. Of course we dream of a future where everything in our shopping carts is organic, but we know that right now, not everyone has access to organic foods. We work very hard here in Ireland to make organic food accessible to as many people as possible. Please take a look at what we can convieniently deliver to your door here.

Dirty Dozen lists are fascinating and highlight the danger of the cocktail of chemicals found in our food. Unfortunately you won’t find a list of the pesticides used on most fresh fruit and veg. However we found it very interesting looking at this label on lemons from a popular online supermarket here in Ireland. Although it is shocking to see, at least it is upfront and evident and we hope that labelling like this will soon become the norm so that consumers can make informed choices. What do you think?

For a ‘Dirty Dozen’ list most relevant to us here in Ireland we’ve been looking at PAN-UK. Pesticide Action Network (PAN) is a network of over 600 participating nongovernmental organisations, institutions and individuals in over 90 countries working to replace the use of hazardous pesticides with ecologically sound and socially just alternatives. Here’s a screenshot from their website on the latest list:

Fruits (especially citrus) and salads seem to be the biggest culprit. But it’s important to remember that these are just the top 12 fruits and vegetables containing pesticide residue, almost all non-organic foods will contain pesticides. Unfortunately washing or peeling your fruit and veg will not be totally effective in removing the pesticides. Many pesticides are systemic, meaning they are absorbed by the plant and can be found throughout, not just on the surface.

There is a growing body of evidence that pesticides can become more harmful when combined and the ‘cocktail effect’ has long-been recognised as an area of concern. Despite this, little has been done to understand or prevent the human health impacts that may occur due to long-term exposure to pesticide cocktails. Find out more about the cocktail effect.

Let us make it easy for you to avoid the cocktail of chemicals found in your supermarket trolly. Order a box from us today, we deliver to every address in Ireland and Northern Ireland and we would love you to join the Green Earth Organics family.

What are your thoughts on organic farming versus the over-use of pesticides on most (but not all of course) non-organic farms? Do you think pesticides are essential to produce enough food for a growing population? Or is there a better way with tried and tested organic systems? We’d love to chat in the comments. We’ll leave you with this quote we love from Mary Jane Butters.

Why Organic?

It was many moons ago, in a life that was never quite meant to be, that I finally realised what it was we needed to do with my grandad’s farm.

You see 20 years ago I was very comfortable working away for the biotech industry in the UK, working in a laboratory researching different chemicals for this and that.

I am a scientist turned organic farmer and I have a very healthy respect for science. But there is one thing I do not agree with, it just does not make any sense to me, and that is the whole scale blanket application of chemicals on our food.

Chemicals that are meant for a laboratory should stay there, and if they are toxic to some life then generally speaking, they will be toxic to other life, it isn’t even that chemicals are ‘bad’ it is the prevalence and ubiquity of them in our food chain and our environment that is harmful.

They are in our food and they are not good for us, and they are not good for life in the  countryside either, they really aren’t. Take a family of chemicals called the neonicotinoids, deemed safe for years, but then it was found that they do irreparable damage to bees and other insects. How, on any level, can using a chemical like that as a blanket spray across our countryside be justified? 

Many of these chemicals do not just sit on the outside of the plant, they are systemic by nature. That means they are absorbed into the plant and do their damage from the inside out, so unfortunately simply washing veg and fruit doesn’t remove them.

Some produce are more heavily sprayed than others and two that regularly feature in the ‘dirty dozen’ are kale and spinach – which is ironic as both grow very well in organic systems. Eating organic of course is one of the easiest and best ways to avoid this unhealthy exposure.

It is possible to grow great food without the use of chemicals, it is a little harder, it takes a little more attention and planning, it requires more labour but isn’t it worth it in the end?

Surely the production of food in a way that contributes to our health and the health of the planet, a way that enhances and protects biodiversity, a way that encourages working with nature rather than against it must be the best way to grow food?

Thank you for taking a good hard look at how your food is produced and choosing to       embrace and support organic – a healthier way of farming for us and our planet.


Have a look at our full range of organic fruit, veg and groceries here and why not consider making your life easy with a weekly fruit and veg box from us?