Dirty Dozen Produce (And 2 To Really Avoid)

Using data from tests conducted by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the Environmental Working Group has picked their “Dirty Dozen” produce for 2016. These 12 foods contain the most dangerous pesticides out of the 48 that EWG analyzed. To the list:

1) Strawberries

strawberries
More than 98% of strawberries tested positive for at least one pesticide residue. One strawberry can have residue from as many as 17 different pesticides.

2) Apples

apples


More than 98% of apples tested positive for at least one pesticide residue.

3) Nectarines

nectarines

More than 98% of nectarines tested positive for at least one pesticide residue

4) Peaches

peaches

Photo by Ewan Traveler via Flickr

More than 98% of peaches tested positive for at least one pesticide residue


5) Celery

celery

Photo by Mike Licht via Flickr

6) Grapes

grapes

Photo by David Eickhoff via Flickr

A single grape sample tested positive for 15 different pesticides.

7) Cherries

cherries

Photo by La Citta Vita via Flickr 

8) Spinach

spinach

Photo by Simon Law via Flickr

9) Tomatoes

tomatoes

10) Sweet Bell Peppers

bell-peppers

A single sweet bell pepper tested positive for 15 different pesticides.

11) Cherry Tomatoes

cherry-tomatoes

12) Cucumbers

cucumbers

Dirty Dozen Plus

For the fourth year in a row, EWG identified two “Dirty Dozen Plus” foods—leafy greens (think kale and collard greens) and hot peppers. These foods do not contain as many pesticides as the foods in the dirty dozen. However, the pesticides they do contain are very toxic. Organophosphate and carbamate insecticides, which have been banned for use on other produce, are still found on greens and hot peppers. Organophosphate insecticides have been found to cause obesity in lab animals.
lots of gorgeous chili peppers

If you see some of your favorite foods on this list, consider going organic when you buy. If you see some of your kids’ favorite foods on this list, definitely buy them organic. Pesticides are a relatively new technology; scientists still aren’t sure what they do to our bodies over time, and how they effect them when we’re still growing. If grapes are part of your daily lunch, spend the extra cash to make sure you aren’t also lunching on dangerous chemicals.

EWG’s full ranking of 50 produce items also contains some good news, their “Clean Fifteen“. These are the foods least likely to contain dangerous pesticides.

1) Avocados

avocado on a tree
Only 1% of avocado samples showed traces of pesticides.

2) Sweet corn

sweet-corn

Multiple pesticide residues are very rare—only 5.5% of Clean Fifteen vegetables showed traces of more than 1 pesticide. Note: Some sweet corn sold in the U.S. comes from genetically engineered seed. Buy organic corn if you want to avoid eating GE food.

3) Pineapples

"small" pinapples

Photo by Jerome Decq via Flickr

89% of pineapples showed no pesticide residue.

4) Cabbage

cabbage

Multiple pesticide residues are very rare—only 5.5% of Clean Fifteen vegetables showed traces of more than 1 pesticide.

5) Frozen sweet peas

frozen-peas

Photo by Paul Wilkinson via Flickr

Multiple pesticide residues are very rare—only 5.5% of Clean Fifteen vegetables showed traces of more than 1 pesticide.

6) Onions

red-white-onions

Multiple pesticide residues are very rare—only 5.5% of Clean Fifteen vegetables showed traces of more than 1 pesticide.

7) Asparagus

asparagus

Photo by Liz West via Flickr

Multiple pesticide residues are very rare—only 5.5% of Clean Fifteen vegetables showed traces of more than 1 pesticide.

8) Mangoes

yellow-mango

Photo by versesane via Flickr

78% of mangoes showed no pesticide residue.

9) Papayas

papaya

Photo by Quinn Dombrowski via Flickr

81% of papayas showed no pesticide residue. Note: Some papaya sold in the U.S. comes from genetically engineered seed. Buy organic papaya if you want to avoid eating GE food.

10) Kiwis

kiwis

Photo by Rusty Clark via Flickr

73% of kiwis showed no pesticide residue.

11) Eggplant

eggplant

Multiple pesticide residues are very rare—only 5.5% of Clean Fifteen vegetables showed traces of more than 1 pesticide.

12) Honeydew Melon

mellon

Photo by Rob Bertholf via Flickr

No single fruit sample from the Clean Fifteen™ tested positive for more than 4 types of pesticides.

13) Grapefruit

grapefruit

Photo by Victoria Rachitzky Hoch via Flickr

No single fruit sample from the Clean Fifteen™ tested positive for more than 4 types of pesticides.

14) Cantaloupe

cantaloupe

Photo by Forest and Kim Starr via Flickr

62% of cantaloupes showed no pesticide residue

15) Cauliflower

cauliflower

Multiple pesticide residues are very rare among this group—only 5.5% of Clean Fifteen vegetables showed traces of more than 1 pesticide.

The EWG offers a handy printable version of the Dirty Dozen and Clean Fifteen for you to stick on the fridge or drop in your grocery bags. For processed products, you can use their Food Scores site.

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