THE 2021 DIRTY DOZEN AND CLEAN FIFTEEN

Eleanor King

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 Fifteen.”

Topping the list of the “Dirty Dozen” for the sixth year in a row are strawberries. Even when rinsed in the field and at home, over 90% of the strawberry samples had detectable residues of at least two pesticides. Within a single sample of kale, there were over 20 different pesticides listed as present. Bell peppers and hot peppers had the highest amount of pesticides detected, with 115 total. 

When it comes to cleaner crops, avocados and sweet corn made the top of the list again this year. Fewer than two percent of samples showed any detectable pesticides. Similar to last year, almost 70% of the “Clean Fifteen” fruit and vegetable samples had no pesticide residues. Only eight percent of the product listed in the “Clean Fifteen” had two or more pesticide residue. 

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 Fifteen” highlights the produce that is least likely to hold pesticide residues.

Dirty Dozen


  1. Strawberries
  2. Spinach
  3. Kale, collard and mustard greens
  4. Nectarines
  5. Apples
  6. Grapes
  7. Cherries
  8. Peaches
  9. Pears
  10. Bell and hot peppers
  11. Celery
  12. Tomatoes 

Clean Fifteen


  1. Avocados 
  2. Sweet corn
  3. Pineapple
  4. Onions
  5. Papaya
  6. Sweet peas (frozen)
  7. Eggplants
  8. Asparagus
  9. Broccoli
  10. Cabbage
  11. Kiwi
  12. Cauliflower
  13. Mushrooms
  14. Honeydew melon
  15. Cantaloupe

Consult the EWG website to find more information about the “Dirty Dozen” and “Clean Fifteen” lists, read the organization’s shoppers guide to see how 48 popular fruits and vegetables rank. Plus, learn about the “Dirty Dozen Plus”—an expanded list of foods with trace levels of hazardous pesticides.