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One of the most common reasons to eat more organic produce is to avoid harmful chemicals used in growing your food. Pesticides have been linked to developmental problems in children, and may act as carcinogens or throw off the endocrine system, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Scary stuff!
To help consumers make the safest choices, nonprofit advocacy agency the Environmental Working Group (EWG) has once again released its list of the most pesticide-contaminated produce. The Dirty Dozen, part of the EWG’s yearly Shopper’s Guide to Pesticides in Produce, is compiled from U.S. Department of Agriculture pesticide residue data on 48 fruits and veggies. About two-thirds of the produce samples test positive, and apples top the ranking for the fifth year in a row.
“The bottom line is people do not want to eat pesticides with their fruits and vegetables,” Ken Cook, the EWG’s president and cofounder, said in a statement. “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.”
Critics of the EWG have expressed concern that the Dirty Dozen may discourage some shoppers from adding fruits and veggies to their carts, Salon reported. The accompanying Clean 15, which lists the produce least likely to carry pesticide residue, can help inform those grocery store decisions.
“We are saying, eat your fruits and vegetables,” Sonya Lunder, EWG’s senior analyst, said in a statement. “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.”
Check out the full Dirty Dozen list below, and read the full report here.
Flickr:DC Central Kitchen
The average potato sample was found to carry more pesticides by weight than any of the other foods tested.
Snap Peas (Imported)
A single snap pea sample carried 13 different pesticides.
Flickr:Public Domain Photos
A single sample of cherry tomatoes tested positive for 13 different pesticides.
Not much has changed for the cucumber, which also ranked ninth on last year’s Dirty Dozen list.
Sweet Bell Peppers
Flickr:Abdulla Al Muhairi
A single sweet bell pepper sample contained 15 pesticides.
The leafy green dropped to seventh this year, from sixth last year.
Celery ranked sixth on this year’s Dirty Dozen.
A single grape sample contained 15 pesticides.
Like cherry tomatoes, a single strawberry sample tested positive for 13 different pesticides.
Flickr:Alex “Skud” Bayley
Nearly every sample of imported nectarines — 97 percent — analyzed by the EWG tested positive for at least one pesticide.
All all the peaches sampled, 98 percent tested positive for at least one pesticide residue.
Flickr:DC Central Kitchen
Apples once again top the Dirty Dozen list. Almost every sample — 99 percent! — tested positive for at least one pesticide residue.