2018 Dirty Dozen list is out, strawberries top list

2018 Dirty Dozen list released. PHOTO: WEAR

Organic produce may be better for your health, but it isn't always easy on your budget. If you can only afford a few organics, the Environmental Working Group puts together guidelines that can help you choose.

Every year, the group puts out a "Dirty Dozen" list of foods with the most chemical contamination. This year, strawberries came in at the top, with spinach, apples, peaches and nectarines rounding out the top five.

At Ever'man Cooperative Grocery in Pensacola, they cater to health-conscious customers who want to avoid the residues of chemical fertilizers and pesticides. Manager William Rolfs said, "There's a lot of chemicals out there that the World Health Organization says actually causes cancer."

Rolfs explains that fruits and vegetables with soft skins, like strawberries, tomatoes and sweet peppers, soak the chemicals in. And, he says, washing doesn't remove remove them all. He continued, "Something like a strawberry, you're not going to get rid of the residue. You can wash it all day long and it's already soaked into that piece of fruit."

If you can only splurge on a few organic foods, Rolfs says switching out the items on the "Dirty Dozen" list is a good place to start. But he also says to check prices, because you might be able to buy more than you think. Rolfs said, "It's really not that much more expensive to buy organic if you really shop around and look for the best deals."

Foods with thicker skins like avocados, kiwis and pineapples have much less risk of chemical contamination. They're on the EWG's "Clean Fifteen" list. The complete lists can be found at here, along with a pocket guide you can download and take with you when you shop.