'Dirty Dozen' Helpful or Counterproductive?

This week the Environmental Working Group unveiled the 12 fruits and vegetables that are most contaminated with pesticides.  Registered dietician Jill King says there's good reason people should heed the list's warning.

"Pesticides can cause cancer, they can cause brain damage in children, so you want to be careful," she said.

The 'Dirty Dozen'
 1. Apples
 2. Celery
 3. Strawberries
 4. Peaches
 5. Spinach
 6. Imported nectarines
 7. Imported grapes
 8. Sweet bell peppers
 9. Potatoes
10. Domestic blueberries
11. Lettuce
12. Kale/Collard greens

The list, which is topped off by apples, celery, and strawberries, is just informational.  King says the consumers should make their choices based off of it.

"Are you gonna eat them or are you gonna stay away from them?  For your safety, it's better to stay away them," she said.

But with Michelle Obama's recent push to curb childhood obesity, and with the brand new plate replacing the food pyramid, is the list counterproductive to getting America to eat right?

"A lot of people don't get it as it is, and when they think that there's this dirty dozen list, I'm really concerned that we're gonna cut back.  But five servings of fruits and veggies is still recommended," King said.

But before you worry too much, check out the 'Clean Fifteen.'

1. Onions
 2. Sweet corn
 3. Pineapple
 4. Avocado
 5. Asparagus
 6. Sweet peas
 7. Mangoes
 8. Eggplant
 9. Domestic cantaloupe
10. Kiwi
11. Cabbage
12. Watermelon
13. Sweet potatoes
14. Grapefruit
15. Mushrooms

These items rank lowest in pesticide contamination.  King says you can look to replace some of your items from the 'dirty dozen' with some of these, especially ones with Vitamin C, like pineapple.  Also, a good idea might be to buy local produce, like at a farmer's market.

"The local people are going to have to be more responsive to you.  They're going to have to be more accountable to you," she said.

But even a dietician won't replace all of the foods on the dirty dozen.

"I can tell you this, I'm still going to eat strawberries," King said.

Some of the items on the contaminated produce list are specifically imported foods.  Anyone growing food in the U.S. will likely face stiffer regulations from the government than in other countries.

King also reminds everyone that fruits can absorb the pesticides, so even if you peel or wash a piece of fruit, you may still be getting the contamination.