Every year the Environmental Working Group analyzes data from the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the FDA to highlight foods that test positive for the most and the least amounts of pesticides—known as the “Dirty Dozen” and “Clean 15.”
Topping the list of the Dirty Dozen for the fifth year in a row are strawberries. Even when rinsed in the field and at home, almost all strawberry samples—99 percent—had detectable residues of at least one pesticide, while some 30 percent had residues of 10 or more pesticides. Conventional strawberries have been shown to contain chemicals linked to cancer, reproductive and developmental damage, hormone disruption, and neurological problems.
More than 90 percent of samples of strawberries, apples, cherries, spinach, nectarines, and kale tested positive for residues of two or more pesticides.
When it comes to cleaner crops, avocados and sweet corn made the top of the list. Fewer than two percent of samples showed any detectable pesticides. This year, almost 70 percent of the “Clean 15” fruit and vegetable samples had no pesticide residues.
The “Dirty Dozen” reveals the fruits and vegetables that contain pesticide residues and show high concentrations of pesticides relative to other produce items, while the “Clean 15” highlights the produce that is least likely to hold pesticide residues.
- Sweet corn
- Sweet peas (frozen)
- Honeydew melon
Consult the EWG website to find more information about the “Dirty Dozen” and “Clean 15” lists, read the organization’s shoppers guide to see how 48 popular fruits and vegetables rank, and learn about the “Dirty Dozen Plus”—an expanded list of foods with trace levels of hazardous pesticides.