The Dirty Dozen and Clean Fifteen: pesticides in food

If you are worried about the level of pesticides in the food you buy, there is a handy list which will help you choose wisely. Compiled by PAN UK, it shows those crops with the highest mix of pesticide residues (the Dirty Dozen) and those with the lowest (Clean Fifteen.)
Vegetables grown at Ryton gardens
Buying only organic fruit and veg can be expensive. But with this list you can target your choices. Fruit, for instance, dominates the Dirty Dozen - whereas beetroots, mushrooms and onions are some of the fifteen 'cleanest' vegetables.

Note that PAN UK have focused on produce which contain multiple residues. This is because the UK's regulatory system is set up to assess the safety of only one pesticide at a time, even though farmers and growers use a variety of chemicals - herbicides, insecticides and fungicides - throughout a crop's growing life. Known as 'the cocktail effect' little research has been done to assess the impact of residues from the mix. Because of this, Sir Ian Boyd, the outgoing Chief Scientist, admitted that the UK regulatory system is not fit for purpose. One sample of pears, for instance, revealed 7 probable or possible carcinogens plus 5 endocrine disrupters.

Growing your own organic fruit and veg is clearly the way. If you want to understand more about the benefits of organic food, see Is Organic Food Better for You? or listen to our podcast on the subject .