For the second consecutive year, strawberries have topped the list of produce with the most pesticides. The popular red berries are No. 1 on the 2017 Environmental Working Group's (EWG) Shopper's Guide to Pesticides in Produce. The top 12 spots, known as the Dirty Dozen, are the conventionally grown fruits and vegetables found to have the highest pesticide residue.
This year, spinach jumped to the second spot on the list. Pears and potatoes were new to the Dirty Dozen this year, displacing cherry tomatoes and cucumbers.
EWG's research is based on an analysis of more than 36,000 samples taken by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the Food and Drug Administration. Among the findings:
- Nearly all samples of strawberries, spinach, peaches, nectarines, cherries and apples tested positive for residue from at least one pesticide.
- The most contaminated sample of strawberries had 20 different pesticides.
- Spinach samples had twice as much pesticide residue, on average, than any other crop by weight.
"From the surge in sales of organic food year after year, it's clear that consumers would rather eat fruits and vegetables grown without synthetic pesticides," Sonya Lunder, an EWG senior analyst, said in a statement. "But sometimes an all-organic diet is not an option, so they can use the Shopper's Guide to choose a mix of conventional and organic produce."
The 2017 Dirty Dozen
Here are the 12 fruits and vegetables that made the list. EWG recommends that shoppers buy organic versions of these foods whenever possible in order to minimize the amount of pesticides they consume.
- Sweet bell peppers
The Clean Fifteen
At the other end of the list are the fruits and vegetables least likely to contain pesticide residue. "Relatively few pesticides" were detected on these foods, according to the report. If you can't afford an all-organic produce diet, the EWG recommends buying organic versions of the Dirty Dozen produce and conventional forms of the Clean Fifteen.
- Sweet corn
- Frozen sweet peas
- Honeydew melon