Every year the nonprofit Environmental Working Group releases its rankings of the fruits and vegetables that have the lowest and highest pesticide loads. In order to create the lists, which help families decide when it makes the most sense to buy organic produce if it’s not always possible, the group analyzes data compiled by the USDA after testing more than 32,000 produce samples.
Two of the highlights of the 2016 lists? The cleanest produce is avocados. Only 1 percent of samples tested showed any evidence of pesticides. The dirtiest produce is strawberries, displacing apples, which topped the Dirty Dozen list for five years in a row. Nearly all strawberries tested (98 percent) contained detectable pesticides. Some of them are relatively benign, but others are linked to cancer, reproductive damage, hormone disruption, and neurological problems, according to the EWG.
“Fruits and vegetables are important for your health,” says Sonya Lunder, a senior analyst at the EWG. “But for those on the Dirty Dozen, we recommend buying the organic version if you want to avoid pesticides on your food. You can feel confident that conventionally grown fruits and veggies on the Clean Fifteen list have very little pesticide contamination.”
And now for the lists:
- Sweet corn
- Sweet peas, frozen
- Sweet bell peppers
- Cherry tomatoes
For more information about the Clean Fifteen and Dirty Dozen, and to download the EWG’s free Shopper’s Guide to Pesticides in Produce, visit ewg.org.