Beware of the Dirty Dozen & How to Eat Clean Anyway!

If you have never heard of the DIRTY DOZEN and the CLEAN 15, it is time you learned about them if you value health.

So we are going to take a look first at what the DIRTY DOZEN and the CLEAN 15 are. Then we are going to look at each more closely to know how to avoid the DIRTY DOZEN. We will look more at the CLEAN 15 in a post next week.

Oh, and just a little note here. If you counted the items in the photograph and wondered why there are 13 instead of 12, it’s because there was almost a tie for 12th most polluted. So for the first time in my memory, there are actually 13 on the list rather than 12. So I suppose in 2020 you could say it’s the DIRTY BAKER’S DOZEN.

But then, in some ways of looking at it, there are actually 14 this year. More on that later.

I happen to be a person who hates bad news (who doesn’t). So I’m going to give you the bad news first — but I’m going to follow it with good news. And then I’m going to follow that good news with some really good information. So get set. And you might want to sit down (Just remember, good news is coming….)

Here is the bad news first.

And unfortunately, it’s really bad news as far as I’m concerned.

When the USDA and FDA test for toxins in our fruits and vegetables, they do not even test for Glyphosate (commonly marketed as Roundup).

There are probably two reasons.

First, Glyphosate is SO prevalent in the American agricultural system that there is no reason to test for it because we know it is there. It’s in pretty much everything that is conventionally grown. And we know it is in high levels. Glyphosate  is the most widely used weed killer in the world.

But second, what drives the use, or at least allows it, is that the FDA has concluded that Glyphosate poses no danger to humans in the recommended use levels. That those levels are loosely monitored (at best) is not fully taken into consideration in the states. Nor is the danger it poses to life other than human life.

killing bees and the dirty dozen of 2020That Glyphosate kills bees and is wiping out bee colonies worldwide seems to be OK. (Although Europe has only certified its use to 2022 and is re-considering authorization of use there beyond that date.)

So the DIRTY DOZEN are scarily dirty beyond contamination with Glyphosate. You can safely (if that is the right word in this context) assume that anything on this list also has exceedingly high levels of Glyphosate — on top of the contaminants that are measured.

Many of the contaminants tested in U.S. fruits and vegetables are chemicals known to be neurotoxins that have been outlawed for use in Europe for almost a decade. Although it is tempting to make a joke about this, there is nothing humorous about it. Americans simply appear to be far less worried about poisoning our brains than the Europeans are.

And what most Americans are unaware of, 96% of us have pesticide residue, including Glyphosate, in our bodies right now at this very moment. There is a mountain of scientific evidence that says a vast number of these chemical toxins are bioaccumulative, which means they build up in the body over time and are difficult if not impossible to fully purge from the body once there.

But here is the good news.

First, studies clearly show when a person switches to consuming only organic produce, pesticide and chemical toxin levels drop rather dramatically. Of course, the reverse is true as well. If the same person returns to eating non-organic produce, the toxin levels in that person’s body increase again. Eating only or at least primarily organic produce significantly reduces toxins in the human body.

Second, peeling or washing produce well before cooking or consumption reduces pesticide and toxin content in many fruits and vegetables. It is important to be aware that some fruits and vegetables absorb these synthetic chemicals in a manner that means the toxins cannot simply be peeled or washed off. But peeling and washing always helps at least lessen external residue.

Third, depending on where you live, there are items on this list that you can grow in your own garden, even in a container by a sidewalk. So you can insure none of this nasty stuff is on it, particularly if you take care to plant non-GMO seeds or plants.

And be aware that at least several of the DIRTY DOZEN on this list are remarkably easy to grow. We routinely grow four of these because they are so simple to grow and harvest right outside the kitchen door in big pots.

Even if you don’t want to purchase only organic fruits and vegetables or if you feel doing so is outside your budget, THE DIRTY DOZEN ARE THE FRUITS AND VEGETABLES TO SPLURGE ON AND BUY ONLY ORGANIC.

What does it mean for produce to be “organic?”

organic produce and the 2020 dirty dozenMany people wonder about the difference between the terms “organic” and “non-GMO” or whether the terms are interchangeable.

The terms are not interchangeable because they mean two different things.

Organic produce must be non-GMO in order to be certified as organic or properly referred to as organic. But non-GMO produce is not necessarily organic produce.2020 dirty dozen and non gmo

The term “non-GMO” means that the produce comes from a plant that was not genetically modified in any manner.

But the term “organic” has far more stringent criteria.

Organic produce has to meet several criteria to be deems organic.

First, to truly be organic, the produce has to come from seeds or cuttings of plants that are not genetically modified in any manner — thus it must be non-GMO. But there is more.

Then, after assurance the produce has come from non-GMO stock that has not been genetically modified, there must have been no synthetic chemical fertilizer and no chemical pesticides used on the plants or produce, no use of sewage in the growing process, and no irradiation of the plants or produce at any point in time.

Although we may not be aware of it, all of these things are typically present in the fruits and vegetables Americans purchase in the supermarket.

And, an aside here, it is also important to know that organic produce has more benefit that just lack of poison.

Several studies, including a landmark paper published in the British Journal of Nutrition in 2014, have shown that organic produce has significantly more antioxidant polyphenols than produce that has been grown in conventional methods. These antioxidants are considered by many medical researchers to 2020 dirty dozen and killing beesreduce risk of chronic diseases including cardiovascular disease and certain forms of cancer.

And beyond that, organic farming and harvesting methods are more sustainable than conventional farming methods. Organics provide what is called “soil integrity,” a critical mass in continued biodiversity and health of our farmlands themselves.

And of course, unlike current American conventional farming methods, organic farming does not put the life of birds and honeybees in jeopardy. Nor does it pollute our water supply.

So just what is the “Dirty Dozen?”

Annual lists of the DIRTY DOZEN and the CLEAN 15 are the brain children of the Environmental Working Group (EWG) to highlight pesticides and known toxins present in commercially-available fruits and vegetables in the United States.

The EWG itself is a non-profit, non-partisan group sponsored by a consortium of industry leaders in the food/beverage/sustainablity world including Annie’s Homegrown, Earthbound Farms, Grove Collaborative, Klean Kanteen, Nature’s Path, Organic Valley, Stasher, and Stonyfield, to name only a few.

But EWG does not do the actual testing. Pesticide test results are taken directly from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA). What EWG does is compile the findings from these two agencies into what essentially are the “best” and “worst” lists.

The DIRTY DOZEN list is released annually in the month of March. It lists, in order, the fruits and vegetables on the American market that are the most saturated with toxins and contain the highest levels of contaminants.

In essence, you can consider the DIRTY DOZEN the “worst” list.

And in 2020, there is a side-note that is really important.

Raisins are considered processed food rather than raw food, so raisins are not included on the DIRTY DOZEN list.

But if raisin were included, raisins would take the #1 slot on the 2020 list.

Researchers found that 99% of more than 700 samples of raisins tested found concerning levels of at least two pesticides. And of those samples, some contained as many as 26 different pesticide residues. You will note grapes (the fruit raisins are made from) are on the DIRTY DOZEN list. But it appears that grapes with the highest level of pesticides are dried as raisins in our food chain.

Both rice and oats had similar results. They don’t show up on this list. But it is important to buy organic raisins, rice, oats, and oat products because their toxicity levels are very high.

So if the DIRTY DOZEN are the most saturated, then what is the CLEAN 15 list?

Conversely, the CLEAN 15 is what you can consider the “best” list. These are the fruits and vegetables that contain the lowest amounts of pesticide and toxin residue.

If your food budget cannot extend to all organic, the CLEAN 15 is where you can be at least more safe in buying commercial produce that is not labeled organic. (More on that in our post on the CLEAN 15 next week.)

Because industry practices change, these list change at least some from year to year.

As mentioned earlier, EWG updates these two lists annually based on USDA and FDA testing results. The release is usually in March of each year.

So right now, what is on the Dirty Dozen list?



Organic strawberries can often be found in the frozen section of your store. Depending on what you are planning to use them for, the frozen variety may work. Frozen organic strawberries are usually quite a bit less expensive than fresh ones and are usually available year round. For something like dipping whole strawberries in fondue, the frozen ones do not reconstitute well and you simply cannot replace the taste and texture of fresh strawberries. But if you are cooking them in something like Mimi’s Strawberry Galette, the frozen ones work just fine.

But be aware that strawberries are one of the places to spend your organic pennies because there is a lot most people do not know about strawberries. And it is important to know because most Americans eat about 8 pounds of strawberries a year — along with all the toxins on them.

Almost 90 percent of strawberries consumed in the U.S. are grown in the U.S. And strawberry planters in the U.S. spray their fields with highly toxic gas even before they plant.

Consistent over at least half of the last decade, 99 percent of strawberries tested by the USDA had some level of at least one pesticide, even after careful washing. Thirty percent had residue of 10 or more pesticides. And some of the samples had as many as 23 different pesticides on them. Even after washing.

In all, there were 81 different various toxic chemicals found on strawberry samples in a wide range of combinations. Some of these are known to cause cancer, reproductive and developmental damage, hormone disruption, and neurological problems.

And as slight side-note here…the vast majority of these chemicals are banned for use in Europe.

Although I have to admit we have had abysmal luck growing our own strawberries, it is not impossible to do. You can find an informative guide on how to grow your own strawberries here.



2020 dirty dozen

From Popeye to your local tailor, everyone knows spinach is jam-packed with nutrients.

But you may not know most commercial spinach in the U.S. is jam-packed with toxins, too. In fact, for its weigh, it is the most dangerous of American vegetables right now. That is why spinach sits at the #2 spot on the DIRTY DOZEN list.

In fully three-quarters of the non-organic American-grown spinach tested by the USDA a neurotoxin that is banned in Europe was present. Sometimes in shockingly high quantities.

So PLEASE, don’t avoid spinach. But either buy organic spinach or grow your own.

The good news is that in most locations in the U.S. it is easy to grown spinach at home. For us, we grow it as a winter crop in big ceramic pots along our sidewalk off of the kitchen door. It is easy to grow and all you have to do it step out of the door and snip some off. If you can’t find organic seeds or starter plants locally, you can almost always order them online.

These organic heirloom spinach seeds available on Amazon from Bloomsdale are a great example. This is one of our favorite varieties and suppliers of it.

And yes, we are an Amazon affiliate and may make a small amount if you purchase something by branching from our page. But it costs you nothing, and we never point you to something we haven’t checked out or purchased ourselves.



2020 dirty dozen

Painfully, as recently as 2017 the USDA found that nearly 60 percent of the non-organic Kale sold in the United States were contaminated with DCPA. And unfortunately, that level continues today.

DCPA is often marketed as Dacthal in the U.S.

DCPA/Dacthal was classified as a possible carcinogen by the EPA more than 25 years ago. Yet it continued to be used in commercial farming.

In the early 2000s numerous studies showed that DCPA/Dacthal is highly persistent in the environment and can contaminant run-off water, nearby streams, groundwater, and even drinking supplies.

In 2005 the manufacturer voluntarily relinquished its registration for DCPA/Dacthal use on artichokes, beans, and cucumbers. But it did not quit the manufacture and sale of it.

In 2009, the European Union banned all use of Dacthal or any form of DCPA.

It remains routinely used on kale, broccoli, sweet potatoes, eggplant, and turnips in the U.S.

Kale, as well as spinach, is easily grown without any use of pesticides in your own yard or window.



2020 dirty dozen

Not to get you really, really depressed or anything, but non-organic nectarines (and peaches) in the U.S. show high levels of chlorpyrifos, even after washing. And sometimes even after peeling.

Chlorpyrifos is toxic to the liver and kidneys.

Nectarines show even higher levels of it than peaches. But it is present in both in somewhat alarming quantities. That is why nectarines scored #4 on the 2020 DIRTY DOZEN list.

When you are buying nectarines, stick to organic ones. Or, better yet, if you have the space, plant your own non-GMO nectarine tree. You can sometimes find them at local nurseries or even at the garden centers of Lowe’s or Home Depot. And if not, you can find excellent non-GMO nectarine trees and other root stock at reliable suppliers like Grow Organic.



2020 dirty dozen apples

I know we have all heard the phrase “an apple a day keeps the doctor away.” But that may not be so true in the U.S.

Apples have been high on the DIRTY DOZEN list every year since EWG began the list. That’s because apples routinely have an average of 4.4 different pesticides and toxins on them. Even washed. And some are at extremely high concentrations.

Be aware that while most commercially grown fruits and vegetables in the U.S. are not genetically modified, we are seeing a larger percentage of apples that are genetically modified in our marketplace. In most cases, genetically-altered fruits and vegetables are relatively “hidden” in processed food rather than in fresh produce. But it seems apples are becoming an exception.

And genetic modification is not the only problem with American apples.

Conventionally grown apples in the U.S. are drenched in a chemical called Diphenylamine to prevent brown spots called scalding during storage of them. USDA tests show that nearly 80 percent of apples still have relatively high levels of it when they reach your shopping cart in the market. And Diphenylamine  is not easily or fully washed off in your sink.

Because Diphenylamine  is applied after harvest, the concentrated amount on commercial apples in the U.S. is extremely high. And although amounts lessen when apples are processed, tests also show high levels of it remaining in applesauce.

While American growers insist that Diphenylamine  is relatively harmless to humans, European officials do not view it that way.

In fact, not only is Diphenylamine  totally banned in Europe, in 2014 the EU stopped the importation of all apples and pears treated with it.

Apples themselves are wonderful. Just be sure to buy organic when you are buying apples or any apple products in the states. Or if you are in a climate that can support it and have the space, plant your own apple tree from non-GMO root stock.

A good source for non-GMO apple sapplings is Trees of Antiquity. They offer varieties suitable for USDA Zones 3-10. And they have a wonderful online guide to picking the apple variety that best meets your desires and location.



2020 dirty dozen

Who doesn’t love grapes? We certainly do. But be careful in the U.S. with conventionally grown grapes. There are 64 good reasons grapes made the DIRTY DOZEN list. Again.

In recent USDA testing, more than 96 percent of commercially grown non-organic grapes had residue of at least one toxic pesticide. Most samples had an average of 5 to 6 different pesticides or toxic chemicals.

In fact, as a class, grapes were the most widely contaminated of all of the fruits and vegetables tested. Some samples had as many as 16 different detectable pesticides and chemical residues present. And grapes had the widest variety of contaminants — 64 different toxic chemicals were found in the grapes samples tested.

We note here that the most highly contaminated grapes seem to end up dried as raisins. But chemical contamination is widespread across commercially grown U.S. grapes in all forms.

More than 1/3 of conventionally grown grapes in the U.S. show residue of Myclobutanil. This substance is highly controversial in scientific circles today, but there is increasing concern about its prevalence in the food supply. Various environmental sources, including the State of Colorado, warn that it is a toxic groundwater containment. Myclobutanil is banned in Canada where there is heightened concern about the high levels they are finding of it in medical cannabis products despite the ban.

Additionally, nearly half of American grapes that are grown conventionally have elevated levels of Imidcloprid, Pyraclostrobin, and/or Boscalid. In a huge number of the grapes samples, all three of these were present.

All three of these chemicals are relatively new chemical compounds. Commercial use of them only began in 2014.

Imidcloprid was banned in Europe and in the UK in 2017 after only three years of its appearance on the market, although it remains in wide use in the U.S.

Pyrclostrobin and Boscalid are still in use in Europe, but their re-certification is currently under review by the European Food Safety Organization. A ban on both is possible in the near future, but some sources say it is more likely more stringent guidelines on the amount that can be used will precede an outright ban. However, the allowable amounts of both are almost certain to change in the EU in coming months. Part of European concern is the chemicals’ effects on bee colonization. But multiple studies appear to be raising concerns about human risk as well.

All of this makes grapes a fruit that should be on our “organic-only” buying list.

Non-GMO grapes are often difficult to find locally. But you can find non-GMO and heirloom grapes from a number of excellent online sources. One source for heirloom grapes is our beloved Trees of Antiquity. Another excellent source is Grow Organic. Both carry varieties suitable for eating, canning, or for making wine. And both sell root stock that thrives in USDA zones 5-11.

If you are interested in a great recipe for your wonderfully clean organic grapes, be sure to check out our great Smoked Turkey Salad with Grapes and Sliced Almonds. We find it a perfect recipe to have on hand during the holiday season when you are most likely to have leftover turkey and are hankering to mix it up a bit.



202 dirty dozen

Peaches pose problems on two levels.

First, more than 60 different chemical toxins show up in the USDA testing of peaches. But even more troubling than that, peaches have really thin skin.

No, it doesn’t mean they get their feeling hurt easily. What it means is that because of the thin skin, chemical spray is easily and quickly absorbed through the skin into the body of the fruit itself.

And that means you can’t wash the chemical residue off.

If you are going to eat peaches, it is very important to buy organic peaches if you can find them. The big problem is how difficult it is to find organic peaches in the American marketplace.

The only slight upside is that you sometimes can find frozen organic peaches. And due to the texture of peaches, reconstituted peaches from the frozen state is usually pretty much the same as eating fresh ripe fruit. So if you can’t find fresh organic peaches, you may be able to pick them up in the frozen section and be very happy with them.

Peaches are a fruit that really begs you to plant your own tree.

Fortunately you can find non-GMO and heirloom peach trees from Trees of Antiquity that are hardy in USDA zones 5-10. This time of year they are taking order for winter/spring 2021 with a 50 percent deposit of the cost of trees purchased.

There are numerous other suppliers, but you have to be sure what you are getting is actually non-GMO or heirloom stock. If it doesn’t say it is, it’s not. So be careful to check.

Also, pay attention to the zone the sappling you are buying is marked for. We find it always safer to get a variety that is good in zones on either side of you as well as in your zone. For example, if you live in USDA zone 4, play it safe and get a variety that is good in zones 2-5, 3-6, or at least in 3-5.



2020 dirty dozen

We’re getting near and dear here.

I have to admit, cherries are my most favorite fruit. But having said that, I have never grown them. It is difficult — and expensive — to find organic cherries where I live. So I have been thinking seriously about planting a cherry tree or two for the past several years. Doing the research for this article has solidified that desire. So it’s coming.

I have my eye on two varieties of heirloom cherry trees from Trees of Antiquity. They have varieties suitable for USDA zones 4-10. The two on my list for purchase next month are the English Morello Cherry (which I LOVE in preserves and sauces) and the Governor Wood Cherry.

You can search Trees of Antiquity’s wonderful database and find exactly what is right for you and the location you live. Just be sure with cherries to pay attention to the pollination needs of the cherry you are interested in. That’s exactly why I am planning on getting two that match blooming seasons.

But that is putting the cart a little before the cherry horse so to speak. You may be wondering why cherries are on the DIRTY DOZEN list at all.

In recent USDA testing, cherries averaged a minimum of 5 pesticides or chemical toxins per sample.

But even more concerning than that, 30 percent of the cherries tested in the USDA’s last round of testing contained Iprodione. Sometimes in disturbingly high concentrations. Iprodione (also marketed under the name of Vinclozolin) is a known carcinogen that has been banned in Europe since 2007.

Once in use worldwide it was used on crops of almonds, peaches, grapes, rice, peanuts, lettuce, and cherries as well as on golf course turf.

But given Iprodione’s clear ties to cancer, most of the civilized world has banned its use. In the U.S. it is supposed to now be used only on turf grasses.

But clearly the use of it is not policed well enough because Iprodione shows up in almost a one-third of our conventionally grown cherries.

If you are a cherry lover like me, stick to buying only organic cherries. Or plant your own tree.



2020 dirty dozen


We love pears. And we love cooking with pears. In fact, this recipe (scroll down to get to it because there are three different recipes in this article) for Brie au Four avec Noix de Canelle et Poires (Baked Brie with Cinnamon Pecans & Pears) is one of our all-time favorites.

But American pears are are twice as filled with toxins than they were a decade ago. Sad. But true.

That’s why pears sit at #9 on the 2020 DIRTY DOZEN list.

In recent testing by the USDA, pesticide residue found in conventionally grown American pears had more than doubled since 2010. Fully 48 percent of the pears sampled had five or more pesticides in them.

And worse, every one of the samples had been well washed before testing.

Like peaches, the skin of pears is so thin that when the fruit is sprayed with toxins, they seep right through the skin into the flesh of the fruit. So you can’t fully it wash it off.

In all, 49 different pesticides and toxins were found in pears. In 2010, only 9 were found. So we are clearly going the wrong direction here.

One of the most dangerous findings was that more then one-quarter of pears tested showed high levels of a chemical known to be a hormone disruptor that is highly toxic to the male reproductive system. And one in ten of the samples contained Diphenylamine that has long been banned in Europe because it is a known carcinogen.

Pears are a fruit we need to be sure to purchase organic-only. Or, of course, you can plant your own.

One of our favorite sources, other than Trees of Antiquity, is a company called Peaceful Heritage. One of our favorite pear trees is this certified-organic Peaceful Heritage Turnbull pear tree.  It is highly resistant to blight, but it does need another variety of pear in relatively close proximity for pollination. It’s always a good idea to get two trees of different varieties when you have trees that are not self pollinating. Always check that before you buy.

Many fruits, including pears, have varieties best for eating raw and other varieties best for cooking or canning. If pears are your favorite, we suggest getting one of each.



2020 dirty dozen

In the most recent USDA tests, the minimum number of pesticides found in conventionally grown American tomatoes was four. But as many as 15 pesticides and toxins were found in the samples.

Thus, tomatoes once again made the DIRTY DOZEN list for 2020.

Like peaches and pears, tomatoes have a thin skin which means chemical contaminants are quickly absorbed into the interior flesh of the fruit. So it is not possible to wash fully clean of toxins because they are part of the fruit itself.

And of course this means the toxins are in widely-used conventional tomato products like ketchup and marinara sauce and canned tomatoes.

Think about that the next time you are buying groceries. The solution is either to buy only organic tomatoes and tomato products or to make your own from your own produce.

Tomatoes are the fruit you are most likely to find in your local garden center than almost any other fruit or vegetable. And if you are in a larger locale, you may have better luck finding a non-GMO variety of tomato plant than most of us have. At least maybe. Where I live, nurseries don’t carry non-GMO plants because they say they don’t have enough demand for them.

Of course, where I live, every lawn care guy carries a sprayer full of Roundup in the back of his pickup truck, too. Go figure.

So online sources for non-GMO and heirloom seed such as David’s Garden on Amazon and the direct website for Seeds’nSuch are vital for us. They may be helpful for you, too.



2020 dirty dozen

As many as 13 different pesticides were found on conventionally grown celery samples.

But worse, more than 95 percent of the celery tested had pesticide residue. That is probably the major reason celery made the 2020 DIRTY DOZEN list.

Remember celery is mostly water. And pesticides are typically sprayed in a liquid form that is quickly absorbed into celery. That means that scrub as hard as you may, you are not getting the stuff off or out of your celery.

So buying organic celery is really important. And unlike many fruits and vegetables it’s not a whole lot more expensive to buy organic celery than it is to buy conventional celery.

And the cost can easily go down more if you simply re-grow your organic celery.

Fortunately celery is really easy to propagate buy re-using the base of a bunch of organic celery you purchase in your grocery store. For directions on how to do it, Housing a Forest has a great guide on “re-growing” organic celery.

We love growing celery in a pot outside the kitchen door because we seldom use more than a stalk or two at a time. So there is a whole lot less waste in just cutting off a few stalks and leaving the plant growing.



2020 dirty dozen

Potatoes, at #12 on the 2020 DIRTY DOZEN list, were found to contain a huge amount of pesticides per weight.

The most prevalent chemical found in conventionally grown U.S. potatoes was Chlorpropham.

Although the FDA classified Chlorpropham as only “mildly toxic,” European scientists disagree.

It was banned in Europe in the summer of 2019 because scientists say although it has only “mild” mammalian toxity in the immediacy, it is what they term “bioaccumulative.” So over time, the toxicity level builds in mammals.

And on top of that, Chlorpropham is deadly to birds, honeybees, and numerous aquatic species. Because it invades and builds up in groundwater and run-off, European scientists say it is too dangerous for use on crops.

One of our favorite sustainability websites has an excellent guide on how to grow potatoes from food scraps. Just be sure to use refuse from an organic potato and follow these instructions on TreeHugger.


2020 dirty dozen

They may not have “officially” made the 2020 DIRTY DOZEN list, but pragmatically, hot peppers are right there with big danger flags flying over them. They make the BAKER’S DIRTY DOZEN at #13.

Hot peppers in the U.S. are routinely sprayed with the chemicals Acephate, Chlorpyrifos,and Oxamyl.

All three of these are known neurotoxins. All three are banned on most produce in the U.S. But not on hot peppers.

USDA testing continually finds high levels of all three on hot peppers.

And washing the peppers does not seem to dissipate it fully.

If organic hot peppers are unavailable, outside of your budget, or unable for you to plant in your own garden, it is advised to cook them before you consume them. Cooking heat appears to significantly lessen these neurotoxins. It doesn’t eliminate them. But heat does lessen them.

If you don’t solely use organic hot peppers, at the very least, wash them well and roast them before you eat them.


For more specific information on how to grow your own organic fruits and vegetables…

Contact your USDA County Extension Agent. Your county extension agent can advise you on the best varieties of plants for your area, what kind of soil augmentation may be needed, organic pest control, and even what free soil testing services may be available. We have always found our County Extension Agent to be invaluable.

Here is an interactive map to easily find the USDA Extension Agent in your county.


For some of our favorite seeds that are easy to grow yourself, you might look at these.

Most of these links on Amazon are an assortment of varieties.


And yes, we are an Amazon Affiliate as we mentioned earlier in this article.

But we have no affiliation with any of the nurseries mentioned here — other than we think they are great and are a wonderful source to find organic and non-GMO root stock.




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