Industry leaders who will stand up for fresh commodities fingered in the “Dirty Dozen” list of pesticide-laden produce published by the Environmental Working Group are being sought.

The Watsonville, Calif.-based Alliance for Food and Farming said in a news release that the group is putting together industry leaders to represent commodities published in the Dirty Dozen list. The 12 people will speak on behalf of the health and safety of all produce, according to the release.

The alliance said the EWG has lately been warning consumers that some fruits and vegetables are like “junk food” and should only be eaten in moderation.

“Through the Alliance’s Safe Fruits and Veggies initiative, the produce industry has had some real success in encouraging more balanced media reporting on the issue of pesticide residues,” Matt McInerney, executive vice President of Western Growers and chairman of the Alliance for Food and Farming Board, said in the release. “But we cannot stop now. We need the entire produce industry’s help to put an end to the increasingly misleading claims from activist groups like the EWG.”

Bryan Silbermann, president of the Newark, Del.-based Produce Marketing Association, and member of the alliance board said in the release that the EWG attack comparing fresh produce to junk food should not be tolerated.

“If ever there was a need for the produce industry to ‘take back our brand,’ it’s now,” he said in the release.

Marilyn Dolan, executive director of the alliance, said its efforts to present facts about pesticide residues on fresh produce has resulted in a marked decline in media coverage of the Dirty Dozen list.

Those interested in becoming a champion for fruits and vegetables on the “Dirty Dozen” list can contact the Alliance for Food and Farming by calling (831) 786-1666 or via e-mail at

The items on the list are:

  • Apples
  • Celery
  • Bell peppers
  • Peaches
  • Strawberries
  • Imported nectarines
  • Grapes
  • Spinach
  • Lettuce
  • Cucumbers
  • U.S. blueberries
  • Potatoes