The Dirty Dozen

  • Chelsea Jones
The Dirty Dozen

The Dirty Dozen

Mother nature does a pretty exceptional job of providing us with the most luscious treasures, fresh fruits and vegetables. There is no better feeling of walking up to an apple tree, picking it right off, only to eat it seconds later. Unless you live on a bountiful farm, this probably isn’t the case the majority of the time. Like most of us, you get into your car and go to the store or your local farmers market when you want produce.  

While Mother Nature is doing her duty, providing  us with some of the juiciest berries and crispiest lettuce, there are often some unsolicited guests trying to feed themselves and their families just like us!  That’s right, were talking about ants, spiders, beetles, birds, even our furry friends like raccoons, or deer. These unexpected dinner guests can really slow down the prosperity of a farm or garden, and can be especially alarming for larger farms or gardens who sell their produce to retailers.  A quick solution to deter unwanted guests? Poison them of course! It became apparent that the scarecrows were losing some of their edge and lacking in their fear factor, so farmers took another route and began using pesticides to keep unwanted animals away from their produce. Today, when you hear the word pesticides, most people associate with negative connotations and for fair reason, but pesticides weren’t always thought of so poorly because they used to be far more simple and less dangerous.

The practice of farming and gardening has been around for ages, probably due to the fact that humans need to eat to survive.  Humans recognized early on that animals needed to eat too, so they needed a way to keep the animals away from their own food. Since getting in the car and going to Home Depot wasn’t an option, a more natural remedy was used when trying to keep pests away. In ancient Roman and Greek Society, “Extracts of lupine flowers or wild cucumber were widely used against a variety of pests, according to several writers. And the application of amurca and gobs of earth to young plants such as cabbages kept the crops free of beetles and ants.”(Webster).  But as time went on and technology progressed, the discovery of more powerful, effective and cheaper methods to keep pests away became more prevent, “The growth in synthetic pesticides accelerated in the 1940s with the discovery of the effects of DDT, BHC, aldrin, dieldrin, endrin, chlordane, parathion, captan and 2,4-D. These products were effective and inexpensive with DDT being the most popular, because of its broad-spectrum activity4, 1” (History of Pesticides). Among the most popular of all the pesticides was DTT. Dichlorodiphenyltrichloroethane, is a tasteless, orderless, colorless, pesticide that was thought to be the solution to efficiently feeding America.  It was advertised as the saving grace, and was going to solve hunger in America, while keeping people happy and healthy. Produce was cheaper and more available, a true phenomenon post World War II, a time where all foods, especially produce were extremely scarce. You’d be lucky to get your hands on a can of baked beans.

Around the 1960’s Marine Biologist and Author, Rachel Carson came out with her best selling book, Silent Springs. Silent Springs revealed the unsettling truth about DTT and other pesticides.  It informed Americans that the household DTT products they were using and the produce they were eating that was sprayed with DTT, was not only harming their bodies at an alarming rate, but was also detrimental to the environment. The idea of farming without pesticides seemed almost irrational after Americans had gotten used to the luxury of DTT, but the increased concern for what it did to the body and the environment became less popular. Thus, the concept of organic farming began to arise.  This new idea suffered at first due to the lack of regulations and guidelines to what actually defined “organic farming,” but after congress passed the Organic Foods Production Act (OFPA) in 1990 and a national standard for organic foods was born, the gray space became smaller and Organic farming was becoming a part of American life.

Fast forward to today-do you go for the non organic or organic foods? Are the extra couple of bucks worth it to you to know the chicken you’re feeding your family is free of antibiotics and growth hormones, or that the spinach you’re serving was not genetically modified? At RollinGreens, we believe that Mother Nature is a pretty smart lady, and without the use of chemicals, GMOS, or other harmful substances, she can do her best work and provide the most delicious foods that will keep your body and our planet healthy and happy! Did you know that some organic foods actually have higher contents of key nutrients, When it comes to meat and milk, organic products can have about 50% more omega-3 fatty acids,” and “researchers found that organic onions had about a 20% higher antioxidant content than conventionally grown onions.”(Naftulin)  While no one likes to pay more for their food, getting those extra nutrients can really make it worth the extra bucks!  Other researchers found , “the commonly used herbicide Roundup has been classified as a “probable human carcinogen,” and the insecticide chlorpyrifos has been associated with developmental delays in infants”.(Naftulin)  

Eating organic is also one of the best ways to thank Mother Nature for all her hard work by keeping her happy and healthy!  Organic food practices promote biodiversity which is needed in a healthy ecosystem. By eliminating runoff from pesticides, we are also protecting our water and air quality by keeping harmful chemicals out.  Organic agricultural practices will also have positive long terms effects on rising issues such as global warming, especially the greenhouse effect and climate change through its ability to isolate carbon in the soil.   

In an ideal world, every person would have access to antibiotic and GMO free animal products and organic fruits and vegetables, but sometimes that simply isn’t possible. We have budgets we have to abide by, stores near us that don’t always have all the organic products we need and sometimes we find ourselves in a time crunch with a little one screaming in the backseat and next thing you know, you’re ordering at the drive through window.  We’re only human, and don’t worry, Mother Nature understands! While eating an 100% organic diet is not always possible, there are a few foods that you should try to strictly eat organic that are considered the dirtiest when it comes to produce. “Dirtiest” referring to the large amount of pesticides and chemicals these foods are notorious for being drenched because they attract the most unwanted guests. According to the Environmental Working Group (EWG), a non partisan nonprofit group dedicated to promoting and researching environmentally sustainable practices, here are the top 12 dirtiest fruits and vegetables.

The Dirty Dozen

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

Did any of your family’s staples make it onto the list?  If so then don’t worry, because there is also a list of the top cleanest produce items you can buy!  

The Clean 15

1 Avocados

2 Sweet corn

3 Pineapples

4 Cabbage

5 Onions

6 Sweet frozen peas

7 Papayas

8 Asparagus

9 Mangos

10 Eggplant

11 Honeydew melon

12 Kiwi

13 Cantaloupe

14 Cauliflower

15 Broccoli

Whether you’re still weighing the pros and cons of organic foods, or have made the decision to go completely organic, just remember that our Millet Tots are always made with 100% organic ingredients free of harmful fillers. We like to keep things simple, just like our short list of familiar ingredients we use to make these tots!  

History of Pesticide Use. (n.d.). Retrieved from

Naftulin, A. M. (2017, July 27). 4 Science-Backed Health Benefits of Eating Organic. Retrieved from

Webster, B. (1975, December 01). ANCIENT FARMERS KNEW PESTICIDES. Retrieved from

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