Pesticide residue and unwanted chemicals in our food system is making headlines around the globe. The Environmental Working Group (EWG), a not-for-profit alliance offers an annual shopper’s guide to pesticides in produce. The report includes the “Dirty Dozen” and “Clean Fifteen” lists that include the top fruits and vegetables found to have the highest and lowest amount of pesticide residue.
The low-down on popular produce
According to the EWG nearly 70 percent of the produce sold in the US carries pesticide residues. This year the trendy health food kale was included as one of the Dirty Dozen. In fact, the report showed that more than 92 percent of kale sampled had two or more pesticide residues, and a single sample contained nearly 18 different residues. What’s more, kale and spinach samples carried 1.1 to 1.8 times as much residue by weight than any other crop.
The EWG analyzes and ranks pesticide contamination on approximately 50 popular fruits and vegetables using USDA and FDA analysis of 40,900 samples. Surprisingly, the USDA washes or peels all samples prior to testing, in order to mimic consumer practices.
How to avoid pesticides
The literature shows that people who consume organic produce ingest fewer pesticides. In one study, US families who switched from conventional to organic produce, saw a 60 percent reduction in the levels of synthetic pesticides.
The bottom line
The EWG advises us to buy and consume foods—packaged and fresh—marked organic and non-GMO.
The Dirty Dozen & Clean Fifteen—The 2019 Lists
Below you’ll find the results of fruits and vegetables that fall below safety guidelines.
Dirty Dozen Food List
Clean Fifteen Food List
Sweet Peas (Frozen)