Pamela Riemenschneider,
Retail Editor
Pamela Riemenschneider, Retail Editor

I feel like even mentioning the Environmental Working Group’s latest Shopper’s Guide to Pesticides — also known as the “Dirty Dozen” and “Clean Fifteen” — is like poking a sleeping badger.

This year’s release kind of squeaked by most media outlets, from what I’m seeing on my heavy-into-organics friends list on Facebook.

(Because my personal Facebook account is, of course, the most accurate barometer of the consumer mindset — note sarcasm.)

Lately I’ve seen links to the “14 Foods to Avoid” but not the “Dirty Dozen.”

That doesn’t mean it won’t show up, though. These kinds of things live on forever in social media.

That myth about baby peeled carrots leaching chlorine just hit my friends list a few weeks ago and it’s been circulating for years.

I regularly see people posting the age-old myth about Price Look-Up codes being a secret treasure map to decode their produce purchases.

Hint: I have never, and you will probably never, see a genetically modified fruit or vegetable with an 8-XXXX PLU code.

You’ll have better luck finding unicorn at the meat counter.

The Alliance for Food and Farming points to the effort the industry put into educating the consumer about the facts behind the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Pesticide Data Program Report, which the EWG re-interprets to release the Shopper’s Guide to Pesticides.

Both the USDA and the Environmental Protection Agency made it clear that the presence of residue does not equal risk to the consumer, and the alliance offers the data to back this up for skeptical consumers.

The “Dirty Dozen” usually hits early in the summer, right as cherries are coming to market.

I remember this because I usually go on a personal quest to purchase the organic “Dirty Dozen” and price compare them to conventional product. Cherries often are one of the most difficult items to find in an organic version.

In the past, my price comparisons have been pretty disheartening.

While a consumer might find comparably priced items in conventional and organic — things like romaine, broccoli and apples typically don’t have the startling markup you’ll see in cherries, bell peppers or cucumbers — I’ve yet to find a mainstream supermarket that consistently carries a full list of the “Dirty Dozen.”

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