Each year the Environmental Working Group (EWG) puts together a list of the 12 most pesticide-ridden foods called The Dirty Dozen. EWG also assembles a list of the cleanest produce called The Clean 15. Close to two-thirds of the 3,015 produce items tested by the U.S. Department of Agriculture contained some sort of pesticide residue, which is surprising because many healthful consumers are pushing for organic or pesticide-free produce.
More than 165 different pesticides were found on the produce samples during the testing period and some pesticides were found in fruits that had been washed and even peeled.
Some of the key finding from the study are astonishing. Shockingly, 99 percent of the apple samples tested positive for pesticides and 98 percent of peaches and 97 percent of nectarines also tested positive for at least one type of pesticide. One single grape sample and a bell pepper of the sweet variety contained 15 different types of pesticides. And potatoes contained the most pesticides by weight compared to the other items. My favorite leafy green, kale and collard greens commonly contain pesticides like famoxadone, oxydemeton, chlorpyrifos, dieldrin, DDE and esfenvalerate which are very toxic. Dieldrin and DDE were banned years ago but they are still present in the soil where the produce is grown.
Steer clear of the Dirty Dozen and consider buying these 12 foods organic:
- Sweet Bell Peppers
- Cherry Tomatoes
- Imported Snap Peas
- Hot Peppers
- Kale/Collard Greens
Not all foods are ridden with pesticides. Avocados, for example, were the cleanest and only 1 percent of the samples showed signs of pesticides. Fruits like pineapple, mangos, cantaloupe, papaya and kiwi samples had very little or no residue. If you want to purchase produce free of pesticides it’s best to seek out organic produce from local farms, famers markets or natural food stores.
You can also reduce your exposure to pesticides by purchasing produce from the Clean 15 list:
- Sweet Corn
- Frozen Sweet Peas
- Sweet Potatoes