The Environmental Working Group (EWG) has released their list for the dirtiest produce on the market. And by dirtiest, they are referring to fruits and vegetables that have the most pesticide residue, also known as the Dirty Dozen™. According to EWG’s analysis of test data from the Department of Agriculture, nearly 70% of produce sold in the United States comes with pesticide residue. Consuming foods that contain pesticides has been linked to a myriad of health issues, including cancer and fertility issues.
The report also includes a list of the cleanest produce – that which contains the least amount of pesticide residue – the Clean Fifteen™. In contrast to the Dirty Dozen, more than 70% of the Clean Fifteen fruit and vegetable samples had no pesticide residues.
The EWG has also put out a guide designed to help you reduce your pesticide exposures as much as possible by indicating which produce to buy organic and which conventional products are low in pesticide residue. Overall, the USDA found 225 different pesticides and pesticide breakdown products on popular fruits and vegetables that Americans eat every day. Before testing, all produce was washed and peeled. The report shows that simple washing does not remove all pesticides.
Strawberries, spinach and kale topped the list again. Some of their key findings included:
- More than 90 percent of samples of strawberries, apples, cherries, spinach, nectarines, and kale tested positive for residues of two or more pesticides.
- Multiple samples of kale showed 18 different pesticides.
- On average, kale and spinach samples had 1.1 to 1.8 times as much pesticide residue by weight than any other crop tested
EWG'S Dirty Dozen for 2020
Washing produce thoroughly can help reduce the pesticide residue – although the best way to limit pesticide exposure is to choose organically grown strawberries when possible, and that is true for all foods on the Dirty Dozen list. A homemade fruit and vegetable wash can help reduce more pesticide residue.
Unfortunately, organic produce can be expensive, so if you are on a tight budget, consider filling your shopping cart with produce that was found to have the least amount of pesticide residue, like the following from Clean Fifteen list.
EWG'S Clean Fifteen for 2020
- Sweet corn
- Sweet peas (frozen)
- Honeydew melon
Note: Currently there is no evidence that COVID-19 can be spread through food. For more information about this and about the Dirty Dozen and Clean Fifteen, visit EWG's website.
Photo from here, with thanks.