Are You Eating the Dirtiest Produce on the Market?

Environmental Working Group unveils its 2015 "Dirty Dozen" list.

February 25, 2015
strawberries
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Environmental Working Group (EWG) has released its annual Shopper's Guide, including its 2015 Dirty Dozen list, a useful tool for identifying (and avoiding) the most pesticide-contaminated produce on the market.

EWG analysts uses U.S. Department of Agriculture and Food and Drug Administration (USDA) pesticide-residue testing results as a basis for ranking 48 different fruits and vegetables. The total number of pesticides detected on a crop and the percent of samples tested with detectable pesticides are also factored in. The report is timely, given that a recent study found people who buy organic produce have much lower levels of organophosphate insecticides inside of their bodies compared to people eating conventionally grown fruits and veggies. Pesticides have been linked to a number of health problems, including certain cancers and lower IQ in children.

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"The bottom line is people do not want to eat pesticides with their fruits and vegetables," said Ken Cook, EWG's president and cofounder. "That's why we will continue telling shoppers about agricultural chemicals that turn up on their produce, and we hope we will inform, and ultimately, empower them to eat cleaner."

The list also includes two additional produce itemsleafy greens and hot pepperssince they are frequently contaminated with insecticides that are particularly toxic to human health, EWG notes.

2015 Dirty Dozen List
1. Apples
2. Peaches
3. Nectarines
4. Strawberries
5. Grapes
6. Celery
7. Spinach
8. Sweet Bell Peppers
9. Cucumbers
10. Cherry Tomatoes
11. Snap Peas (Imported)
12. Potatoes
+ Leafy Greens
+ Hot Peppers
(Check out the "Clean 15" Produce List.)

Dig Deeper: Get the Full EWG Report

Other Important Findings
• Nearly two-thirds of the 3,015 produce samples tested by the USDA in 2013 contained pesticide residues.

• Nonorganic apples tend to have the most pesticide residues because the chemicals are applied to the crop before and after harvest to preserve the fruit longer.

More: 'Extreme' Levels of Roundup Detected in Food

• 99 percent of apple samples, 98 percent of peaches, and 97 percent of nectarines tested positive for at least one pesticide residue.

• The average potato had more pesticides by weight than any other type of produce.

• A single grape sample and a sweet bell pepper sample contained 15 pesticides.

• Single samples of cherry tomatoes, nectarines, peaches, imported snap peas, and strawberries showed 13 different pesticides each.

"We are saying eat your fruits and vegetables," says Sonya Lunder, EWG's senior analyst. "But know which ones have the highest amounts of pesticides so you can opt for the organic versions, if available and affordable, or grab a snack off the Clean 15."