What is the Dirty Dozen?
The dirty dozen refers to the dozen plus produce that have been tagged by the Environmental Working Group as being the most contaminated vegetables and fruits that are readily available for purchase in the marketplace. It is unfortunate that the twelve identified fruits and vegetables also happen to be ideal for juicing. Usually, the skin contains valuable micronutrients that are released during the juice extraction process however the skin from pesticide contaminated produce must be removed.
The dirty dozen includes fruits and vegetables that are ideal for juicing such as apples, celery cherry tomatoes cucumbers, grapes, hot peppers, nectarines, peaches, strawberries, potatoes, spinach, sweet bell peppers, collard greens/kale+ and summer squash/zucchini+.
You will likely notice that there are more than twelve mentioned here and that is because the list has been expanded in recent times and no doubt will be again as America’s love affair with pesticides continues. The collard greens and summer squash have a ‘+’ after them because they are considered to be toxic, while falling outside the criteria for contamination..
Organic Fruits and Vegetables
With regular produce being contaminated with pesticides, many juicing aficionados have turned to organic produce in an effort to avoid judicious peeling off of skins that normally hold high quality nutrients. Of course these still need to be carefully washed however it is possible to leave the nutrition packed skins on so that you can fully benefit from the extracted, high quality juice. It is only in cases where the skin is exceptionally thick and could damage the juicer, that you would consider peeling away the skins.
Unfortunately the cost of organic produce is very high, often as much as twice the price of pesticide treated produce and until consumer demand rises significantly, the price will stay high for the luxury of consuming organic produce. More people are becoming aware of the benefits of using non-contaminated organic fruits and vegetables. The alternative is to peel the skins from regular produce.
The Clean Fifteen
In addition to the ‘dirty dozen’, the Environmental Working Group has also released a list of what they consider to be ‘clean’ produce and these include avocados, asparagus, cantaloupe, cabbage, sweet corn, grapefruit, eggplant, kiwi fruit, mushrooms, mangos, onions, papayas, pineapple, frozen sweet peas and sweet potatoes. Note that field corn is modified/GMO and likewise for Hawaiian papaya.
So it is not all bad news and it is possible to juice the clean fifteen, even sweet potato, although you will want to mix it with some citrus juices to break down the slightly chalky taste. Grapefruit juice works well for this.
The Bottom Line
In addition to compiling these lists of good and bad fruits and vegetables, the EWG still believe that a fruit and vegetable rich diet is a must and that is always good news for juicing. Even with the risk of pesticide contamination, it is still better to eat plenty of vegetables and fruits than continuing on with a diet that does not include them at all.
If organically grown produce is within your reach and a comfortable fit with your budget, then you have the best option for your dietary requirements as well as a rich array of juicing options available. However, if using organic produce is not an option, then it is important that you carefully wash and peel regular produce before consuming and juicing it.
True, the skin you peel away will take away a high amount of nutrients however this is a far better option than not using fruits and vegetables in your diet at all. It is safe to use the dirty dozen produce if you wash and peel rigorously.
It is important that fresh produce be included in your diet and you will benefit from juicing the dirty dozen foods as well as the clean fifteen. Of course, if organic produce is an option, then you won’t need to distinguish between clean and dirty produce. If not, be aware of the options available in terms of peeling away contaminated skin and combining produce with the clean fifteen. Regardless of how you proceed, using fresh produce is always going to provide health benefits and juicing fresh produce builds significantly on these benefits.