A Produce Industry Hater of EWG’s Dirty Dozen™ Asked Consumers If They Trust Us: ‘Absolutely!’

The Packer, a leading trade publication for the conventional produce industry, loves to attack EWG’s annual Dirty Dozen™ list of fruits and vegetables with the most pesticides.

The Packer argues that the list discourages Americans from eating non-organic fresh produce, who should take growers’ word that there’s no need to avoid toxic chemical residues on the food we eat.

The Packer never acknowledges that our Shopper’s Guide to Pesticides in Produce™, which includes the Dirty Dozen, urges people to eat more fresh fruits and vegetables, whether organic or conventionally grown. Or that the produce industry’s own research shows that people who use the list do just that. If The Packer is Captain Ahab, the Dirty Dozen is Moby-Dick.

After the latest Shopper’s Guide was released in March, The Packer ran an online poll asking: “Does the Dirty Dozen list influence how you shop?”

We don’t know the overall results. But enough respondents supported our guide and expressed fears about pesticides that The Packer’s editor-in-chief, Tom Karst, last week wrote a column admitting “Winning consumer trust not always possible.”

From Karst’s column, here are some questions and responses:

Does the Dirty Dozen list influence how you shop?

  • Yes, if an item is on the list, I will either select an organic option or go without.
  • Absolutely! I cringe to hear ANYONE is eating conventional strawberries!

What is your level of trust in the safety of fresh [conventional] produce?

  • It’s too shakey!
  • Not high for pesticides on fresh fruit and vegetables.
  • Unless I know the grower and trust their organic methods, very low.
  • Not very.
  • Not great; who knows what happens behind the scenes.

What produce brand do you trust the most?

  • Not relevant unless organic.
  • Local farm markets. I avoid major brands unless organic.
  • I don’t follow brands, just organic.

Karst’s takeaways: “Not everyone trusts in food…. There is a small slice of consumers … that won’t be moved…. Earning the trust of all the rest of consumers must be the goal, whether those shoppers buy organic or ‘conventional’ fruits and vegetables.”

“A small slice”? The Shopper’s Guide website had more than 1.8 million visits last year. And the Organic Trade Association reports: “Organic is the fastest growing sector of the U.S. food industry. Organic food sales increase by double digits annually, far outstripping the growth rate for the overall food market.” 

As for earning consumers’ trust, one poll respondent put it plainly:

If the industry is so worried about this list, perhaps cleaning up the chemicals applied would go a long way in easing ‘anxiety’ of purchasing produce.

What do you think? Take our own survey below. We’re pretty sure The Packer will see your answers.

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