Lauri Sturdivant is interested in how our friends and families gather around a table sharing meals and telling stories. In this column she shares recipes and stories from people in Siskiyou County, and restaurant reviews from her travels. Read full interviews, find recipes and reviews at If you’re interested in sponsoring this column in the Mt. Shasta Area Newspapers and the Siskiyou Daily News, call (530) 842-5777 or (530) 926-5214.

I refer to the EWG’s Guide to Pesticides in Produce that ranks pesticide contamination on 47 popular fruits and vegetables. This lists the Dirty Dozen and Clean Fifteen, a ranking of clean and pesticide laden produce. I want to buy the best quality foods I can afford and organic as often as I can. These guides help me to make educated choices about where it makes sense to buy organic or not. The guide helps me eat healthier and save on grocery money.

Environmental Working Group (EWG) is a nonprofit organization with a mission to advocate for policies that protect global and individual health. Their website states, “Nearly 70 percent of the produce sold in the U.S. comes with pesticide residues, according to EWG’s analysis of test data from the Department of Agriculture for our 2019 Shopper’s Guide to Pesticides in Produce™. The EWG began ranking pesticide contamination of 47 popular fruits and vegetables in 2004 using 40,900 samples of produce tested by the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the Food and Drug Administration.”

The EWG test for pesticides after they have been washed and prepared to be eaten. Meaning that even after the produce has been thoroughly washed and, when applicable, peeled. pesticide residues remain on many of the fruits and vegetables.

Clean Fifteen for 2019: These are listed in order of least amount of pesticides to most.

Avocado, sweet corn, pineapple, frozen sweet peas, onion, papaya, eggplant, asparagus, kiwi, cabbage, cauliflower, cantaloupe, broccoli, mushrooms and honeydew melon.

Dirty Dozen for 2019: Ranked from the most pesticides to least.

Strawberries, spinach, kale, nectarines, apples, grapes, peaches, cherries, pears, tomatoes, celery and potatoes.

Visit the EWG's website to get a copy of the Shopper's Guide to Pesticides in Produce™ and see rating for cosmetics, water and more. They will issue and updated guide around March 2020.