Are You Eating the Most Pesticide-Laden Produce?
Environmental Working Group released it’s 2017 Dirty Dozen list and it serves as a solid reminder that we still have a lot of work to do when it comes to cleaning up the food system. This year, the annual report found that almost 70 percent of 48 non-organic samples tested positive for at least one pesticide. (In many cases, the numbers were much higher.) And get this: A single strawberry sample harbored 20 different pesticide residues.
And while spinach nutrition is loaded with calcium and vitamins, there’s one reason to always try to choose organic. Researchers found DDT, a neurotoxic insecticide banned in the U.S., in an alarming number of samples.
A “Clean 15” list is also included in the report, identifying the non-organic produce least likely to be contaminated with pesticide levels. I advise choosing and growing organic as often as possible, but if you’re on a budget or your selection is limited, these lists help you focus your attention on avoiding the most contaminated fruits and veggies.
Key Findings of the 2017 Dirty Dozen Report
- More than 98 percent of samples of strawberries, spinach, peaches, nectarines, cherries and apples tested positive for residue of at least one pesticide.
- A single sample of strawberries showed 20 different pesticides.
- Spinach samples had, on average, twice as much pesticide residue by weight than any other crop.
- Avocados and sweet corn were the cleanest: only 1 percent of samples showed any detectable pesticides.
- More than 80 percent of pineapples, papayas, asparagus, onions and cabbage had no pesticide residues. (Note: Some papayas are GMOs. Choose organic to avoid that.)
- No single fruit sample from the Clean Fifteen tested positive for more than four types of pesticides.
The 2017 Dirty Dozen List & Clean 15 List
EWG’s Dirty Dozen
- Sweet Bell Peppers
EWG’s Clean 15
The Clean 15 list includes produce that is least likely to be contaminated by pesticides. Here’s the 2015 Clean 15 List:
- Sweet corn
- Frozen Sweet Peas
Some sweet corn and papayas sold in the United States are GMOs, so choose organic to avoid GMO versions of these crops.