Have you ever heard of the “dirty dozen”? That description generally relates to the 17 most toxic fruits and vegetables that most people consume on a regular basis. These are considered toxic because of the sheer amounts of pesticides and herbicides that are slathered over them on conventional farms, but don’t think for a second that there are only 17 food items out there that are harmful for you, or that those not on the list are free and clean. Any fruit or vegetable not labeled as “organic” is contaminated with some chemical or another; those not listed here are just slightly less hazardous to your health.

1. Apples

Pesticides cling to apple skin, and can be absorbed into the flesh beneath. Wash fruit thoroughly, and peel before eating.

2. Celery

An average of 64 difficult-to-wash-away chemicals can be found on any given bunch of celery, and considering that celery is basically a water-uptake plant that draws liquids (and toxins) from the soil, do you really want to think about what might be running through your veins after you’ve eaten a stalk or two?

3. Sweet bell peppers

Insects love these sweet, crunchy vegetables, and if you don’t buy organic, you are consuming all kinds of harmful pesticides with every bite.

4. Peaches

If you love peaches, go for canned instead of fresh. These luscious globes are right behind celery as far as toxin levels go.

5. Strawberries

Strawberries are the most chemical-intensive crop in California, and those grown in South America may be laden with even more, as restrictions aren’t as severe in developing countries. Some organic growers apparently joke that conventionally grown strawberries can be ground up and used as pesticides themselves, since they’re so contaminated.

6. Nectarines

These peachy cousins are just as coated with chemicals, and have even thinner skins to absorb them through.

7. Grapes

A single grape may test positive for 15 different chemicals. How many would be consumed by eating a handful of them?

8. Spinach

Spinach is so prone to insect nibblings that conventional farmers have to douse it in (carcinogenic!) chemicals just to keep the bugs off. Guess what gets absorbed into each and every leaf?

9. Lettuce

Non-organic lettuce and kale are contaminated with more chemicals than you really want to think about. If you can’t grow your own, please buy organic instead.

10. Pears

Like apples, these fruits are sprayed constantly to get rid of mites, aphids, moth eggs, and countless other critters.

11. Raspberries and Blueberries

Insects absolutely love these berries, and the fruits are so delicate that they can fall apart right on the bush. Naturally, they’re soaked in fertilizers for growth and stability, and an absolute cocktail of pesticides to keep the insects from nibbling them.

12. Potatoes

First, potato “eye” seeds are doused in pesticides to keep insects from eating the sprouts. Then, they’re sprayed with herbicides so no other plants grow near them. They’re basically exposed to chemicals every week for their entire growing season, resulting in chemical accumulation to the core of every tuber.

If you’re fond of eating these fruits and veggies, it’s far better for you to choose organic options, or try to grow your own organic/heirloom varieties in your garden, if possible.

It would seem that foods that have thick outer rinds can stand up to contamination better than those above, and the cleanest choices you can make include onions, avocado, pineapple, cabbage, melons, eggplant, squashes, sweet potatoes, and non-GMO corn.

Naturally Toxic

There are also several foods that contain high levels of toxins on their own, long before they’re doused in poisonous chemicals. Although some of them lose their initial toxicity during the cooking process, they may still have properties that can be harmful to both people and pets. Let’s take a look at them, shall we?

13. Chocolate

Most people will never have a bad reaction to the theobromine found in chocolate, thank goodness for us choco-fiends, but those with compromised immune systems may find themselves getting quite ill after eating it. That said, chocolate can be fatal to dogs and cats, so don’t share your favorite candy bar with any of your furred friends.

14. Beans

Most legumes (beans and lentils) contain a chemical called phytohaemagglutinin, though it’s most concentrated in red and white kidney beans, followed by fava beans. Lima beans also contain a toxin known as limarin, which can only be neutralized if the beans are cooked thoroughly for about 15 minutes. The same goes for the kidney and other beans mentioned above: they MUST be boiled for at least 10 minutes before any other cooking procedure, including slow-cooking.

Failure to rid these legumes of their toxins can result in severe gastro-intestinal distress, and can even be fatal at higher doses. Never let pets eat raw beans, as they can be fatal nearly instantly, especially to pet birds. (Canned beans are fine.)

15. Green Potatoes

If you go for organic potatoes, they’re absolutely fine for you‒until they start to go green. When spuds start to go green (yay chlorophyll!) it’s a warning that solanine is now present in the tubers, and eating them will make you seriously ill.

16. Rhubarb

Although the stalks lend a lovely tartness to pies and preserves, be sure that you don’t eat ANY part of the leaves‒the convulsions and death really aren’t worth a nibble or two.

17. Mushrooms

The mushies that you find at the supermarket will be harmless to anyone except those with an allergy to fungi, but some people are fond of foraging for wild mushrooms in forests and such. Most mushroom-related deaths occur when people eat the death cap (Amanita phalloides) or destroying angel (Amanita bisporigera) mushrooms by accident. If you’re not an absolute expert when it comes to wild mushroom identification, err on the side of caution and don’t put anything in your mouth.

One thing that often works is to enjoy more tropical fruits, such as mangoes, bananas, coconuts, or papayas. These fruits are usually available all winter long, and are like an early preview of summer’s warmth. 5 Tropical Fruits That Can Change Your Life

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