The Environmental Working Group (EWG) publishes a popular consumer guide called "Shoppers Guide to Pesticides in Produce" (pdf), which is credited with helping drive up sales of organic produce and reduce sales of conventionally-grown fruits and vegetables farmed with pesticides. The Guide contains a handy wallet-sized list of the "Clean 15" -- the top 15 types of produce that are lowest in pesticides, and the "Dirty Dozen" -- twelve types that are better bought organic. Consumers can now also download a handy I-Phone app with the same information. Now the EWG has come under attack by the Alliance for Food and Farming (AFF), a front group for industrial produce growers and pesticide and fertilizer interests. AFF commissioned an "expert report' (pdf) challenging EWG's consumer guide, and started a new Web site, safefruitsandveggies.com, that claims EWG's "Dirty Dozen" list misleads consumers and impedes public health by discouraging consumption of fresh produce. While AFF's "expert report" concedes that people who eat only organic produce will have lower levels of pesticides in their bodies, the report nevertheless concludes that "there is no reason why a consumer should use [the Shopper's Guide] to guide their purchasing decisions for fruits and vegetables."
By Anne Landman on July 20, 2010