“An apple a day keeps the Doctor away“. Or does it? Once again, apples are on the top 12 “dirty dozen” list, being one of the top produce items contaminated with pesticides. The U.S. Department of Agriculture and the FDA are the ones that conduct tests on pesticides, and the rankings come from consumer advocates at the nonprofit Environmental Working Group, or EWG.
The EWG rating system is based on a score given to each item in six categories:
- Percentage of samples with detectable pesticide
- Percentage of samples with two or more pesticides
- Average number of pesticides found in a single sample
- Average amount of all pesticides found
- Maximum number of pesticides found in a single sample
- Total number of pesticides in the fruit or vegetable
Washing off your fruits and vegetables as soon as you get them home can really help, but even this step isn’t going to give you 100% protection. The crazy news is that before the testing was done by the USDA/FDA, most of the produce was carefully washed off first. Regardless of the “dirty dozen” report, the EWG wants to make sure we still get in enough fruits and vegetables, not less. Supposedly, according to the EWG we can reduce our exposure to pesticides by 90% if we cut out the “dirty dozen” and incorporate more “clean 15” in to our diets.
Here are the top 12 fruits and vegetables that had the worst overall pesticide scores.
The Dirty Dozen: Produce With The Most Pesticide
1. Strawberries – nearly 60 different pesticides have been found
2. Blueberries – more than 50 different pesticides have been detected
3. Nectarines – 33 different pesticides have been detected
4. Peaches – more than 60 different pesticides have been detected
5. Grapes – more than 30 different pesticides have been detected
6. Apples – more than 40 different pesticides have been detected
7. Spinach – more than 50 different pesticides have been detected
8. Sweet Bell peppers – nearly 50 different pesticides have been detected
9. Celery – more than 60 different pesticides have been detected
10. Lettuce – more than 50 different pesticides have been detected
11. Kale – more than 50 different pesticides have been detected
12. Potatoes – more than 35 different pesticides have been detected
(In general, tree fruits, berries, and leafy greens dominate this list)
The Clean 15: Produce With The Least Pesticide
Starting with the produce with the lowest pesticide contamination at the top of the list.
2. Sweet Corn
6. Sweet Peas
9. Cantaloupe (domestic)
13. Sweet Potatoes
The USDA will first prepare produce just as a typical household would, before testing for pesticides. This ensures accuracy of potential pesticide exposure.The ones with thick skin (such as corn, melons and avocado, etc.) all had the lowest pesticide residue. While there are few, if any real proven health consequences from consuming trace quantities of pesticides on produce, there have been a growing number of health conscious people taking precautions to avoiding pesticide exposure. My suggestion is to consider buying organic if you can afford to.
Out of the “dirty dozen” and the “clean 15“, which group do you have the most food items that you like? I like and eat half of the ‘dirty dozen” fruits and vegetables, and 10 out of the “clean 15”. Does this change your mind at all about buying organic on one or more items listed above? Let me know what you think 🙂