America loves lists.

We love to see where we stand in lists of America’s best places to retire, most livable cities, most dog-friendly towns, et cetera. Even better, we love the “worst of” lists — waistlines, politicians, celebrities and TV shows.

We are not alone in this world when it comes to a fondness for lists.

I saw a report today from Connexion France that purports to give readers “the least contaminated fruits and veg to eat in France.”

From the story:

Over 72% of non-organic fruits, and 41% of non-organic vegetables, contain traces of pesticides by the time they reach our dining tables, according to a report from NGO Générations Futures.

The least-contaminated fruits were found to be the avocado (23% residue), kiwi (27%), and plum (34%). In contrast, grapes, clementines, cherries, grapefruits, strawberries, peaches and oranges were all found to have 80% pesticide residue.

Haven’t we seen this before? 

Wait one second; the French researchers appear to have appropriated, co-opted, swiped, stolen — pick your word — the Environmental Working Group’s Dirty Dozen and Clean Fifteen approach to classifying produce. 

For those in need of a refresher, here is a EWG list of the 2018 Dirty Dozen

Dirty Dozen’ 2018
1. Strawberries
2. Spinach
3. Nectarines
4. Apples
5. Grapes
6. Peaches
7. Cherries
8. Pears
9. Tomatoes
10. Celery
11. Potatoes
12. Sweet Bell Peppers

‘Clean 15’  2018
1. Avocados
2. Sweet Corn
3. Pineapples
4. Cabbages
5. Onions
6. Sweet Peas
7. Papayas
8. Asparagus
9. Mangoes
10. Eggplants
11. Honeydews
12. Kiwifruit
13. Cantaloupes
14. Cauliflower
15. Broccoli

Here are more EWG lists from:
2017 , 201620152014 , 2013 , 20122010


The Alliance for Food and Farming cites 2016 research published in Nutrition Today shows fear-based messaging tactics used by activist groups that invoke safety concerns about non-organic produce may be having a negative impact on consumption of fruits and veggies among low-income consumers.

From the release: 

Researchers at the Illinois Institute of Technology’s (IIT) Center for Nutrition Research surveyed low-income consumers to learn more about what terms and information about fruits and vegetables may influence their shopping intentions.  Among the key findings, misleading messaging which inaccurately describes certain fruits and vegetables as having “higher” pesticide residues results in low-income shoppers reporting that they would be unlikely to purchase any fruits and vegetables – organically or non-organically grown.

TK: Based on this research and “gut instinct,” naming the Dirty Dozen list of most contaminated produce probably discourages some low-income consumers from purchasing any fresh produce, though it may, in fact, boost organic sales of some commodities. These lists aren’t likely to go away, but it is important for the broader industry to stay on message that all fruits and vegetables are good to eat.

Related articles: 

EWG releases 2019 'Dirty Dozen,' 'Clean 15' lists

Kale takes lumps with Dirty Dozen coverage

Packer Insight — A twist on the Dirty Dozen

Take down the Dirty Dozen