Hazardous Fruits and Vegetables: Do You Know the Dirty Dozen?

May 26, 2010
Megan Bedard is a sucker for sustainable agriculture and a good farmers market, she likes writing about food almost as much as eating it.

Sometimes it's good to cheat. In the grocery store, that is. 

Ahem. We're not advocating getting more-than-friendly with the produce manager. The TakePart way to get ahead in the grocery store is with a hazardous food cheat sheet.

Image Courtesy of Heidi Kenney, of My Paper Crane

Rules for food shopping seem to multiply daily, and navigating the supermarket has become a fact-frenzy nightmare. When is the right season to buy a potato? Which fish is sustainable, again? Is the recall on lettuce over?

It makes sense to have the facts handy. A number of foodie-friendly iPhone apps have popped up in the past several months to remedy the confusion. There's Locavore, the quick reference guide for food near you, and Breadcrumbs, the app that boasts the ability to trace where your food came from. The info-in-your-pocket trend is helping people make smart choices on the go. That's important because questions seem to pop up during any moment of pause in the grocery aisle. 

But what if you want in on the data trend but don't have an iPhone? There's an app for...wait a minute. There's a print-out for that.

The Dirty Dozen and Clean Fifteen cheat sheet, created by mom and foodie Heidi Kenney, is a the size of a business card. On it, a host of smiling and frowning fruits and veggies tell cheat sheet owners which fruits are pesticide-laden—"always buy organic"—and which are safer in moments when organic isn't available.

Kenney says she created the handy device out of necessity: "We have been trying to buy as many organic fruits and vegetables as we can, but the area we live in sometimes makes it a bit of a challenge. [Sometimes] I can’t find something organically and need to decide if I am still going to buy an onion or not."

The cheat sheet is available on Heidi's site, My Paper Crane, in a printable file. Go here to get one. --UPDATE: The Dirty Dozen cheat sheet on My Paper Crane is no longer available online. However, you can find a dirty dozen list by the Environmental Working Group here (click on the badge that says "TakePart").

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