The Clean Fifteen

Last time, we talked about the Dirty Dozen. This time let’s focus on the Clean Fifteen. Two things to understand about this list are that none of the items on it have more than 4 pesticides found on any sample taken. Moreover, only 5.5 percent of any sample taken from the Clean Fifteen were found to have two or more pesticide residues.

Vegetable Market

The lower down this list you go, the lower they ranked. This being said, anything on this list is a hundred times cleaner than those that were on the Dirty Dozen list.


Number one would have to be a food I don’t eat wouldn’t it? The whole world is raving over avocado, but they just taste unpleasant to me. Still, if you are one of the people who loves avocado, this should be really good news for you! I’d say it has something to do with the sturdy nature of the plant and the lack of pests.

Sweet Corn

While field corn used in most of our processed foods are soaked in toxins, sweet corn is generally clean. You still run the risk of GMO if that concerns you, but at least you know there isn’t going to be a toxic bath soaked into the grains.


Of the pineapples tested, 89% of the samples had absolutely no residues at all. This pleases me quite a bit. I rather enjoy pineapple.

This is a mainstay crop in my diet, so it certainly works well for me. If you hate cabbage, I suspect it has something to do with how you’ve had it cooked. Since it is so high on the list, perhaps it is time to start trying it different ways. My suggestion is not to bother with stewed though.

Frozen Sweet Peas

Because they are apparently different from fresh sweet peas. Let’s be honest though, unless you grow it yourself, sweet peas aren’t really any good more than a few hours from when they were picked. I can only assume that the other version tested were canned sweet peas. The texture is better on the frozen ones anyway.


Another of those staple crops for me. It makes me surprised that garlic doesn’t appear on the clean 15 though. Honestly, onion is relatively pest free, so why it didn’t end up higher on the list is a mystery to me.


The last holdout of seasonal eating. While every other item on this list is seen as separate from the growing cycle, asparagus still holds a sense of spring for many people. If you’ve never tried fresh grilled asparagus, run out and get some. Just make sure you prep it properly.


A very popular tropical fruit, mangoes are showing up in everything these days. Good thing for everyone eating them that 88% were found to have absolutely no pesticides.


Here’s one where the Clean Fifteen may not be the whole story. Sure, 80% are free of any form of toxin, but a huge percentage of papaya are GMO. While the reasons for why are complicated (it is one of the few cases where GMO was done not just because of patents and profits), if you don’t want GMO in your diet, there are some steps you might take to help limit the risks. First, varieties listed as “Strawberry”, “Rainbow”, and “Sunrise” should all be avoided. The flesh should not be pink or golden, but instead be a deep yellow. Color is a bit trickier, so this might help. GMO are listed with a 5 number PLU code that starts with an 8. Conventionally grown (IE: May or may not be GMO) are labeled with a 4 digit number. The ones you are absolutely sure have no GMO are organic, which have 5 numbers starting with a 9.


Not a major part of your diet, but still a nice treat. 82% of the kiwi tested had zero pesticide residues.


An oft overlooked fruit, they can be used in a number of really tasty dishes. Many people who’ve had a bad experience with them had one that was prepared incorrectly. They can be bitter when not done well.


Again, probably not a huge part of your diet, but still nice to know if you have them with breakfast regularly.


For me, this is another of those summer-only treats. A good one is like nothing else. 61% of them tested weren’t found to have any residue at all.


Fried cauliflower is a whole different experience than the cut florets dipped in dressing. Since they made the Clean Fifteen, maybe it’s time to start eating a little more of this humble flower.

Sweet potatoes

Oh, I can eat these all day in so many different ways. As an added bonus, they are heart healthy! I think if people ate more of these instead of all the starch-laden regular potatoes, we might have a much healthier world.


So now you know where this year’s cleanest produce sits. I think it is telling that so many of the things on this list are seasonal or are less popular in nature. What do you think about the list?

What are your thoughts?

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