The Dirty Dozen: What Fruits and Veggies Contain the Most Pesticides?

From “EWG’S 2011 Shopper’s Guide Helps Cut Consumer Pesticide Exposure,” released June 13, 2011.

Environmental Working Group has released the seventh edition of its Shopper’s Guide to Pesticides in Produce with updated information on 53 fruits and vegetables and their total pesticide loads. EWG highlights the worst offenders with its “Dirty Dozen” list and the cleanest conventional produce with its “Clean 15” list.

Analysts at EWG synthesized data collected from the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the Food and Drug Administration from 2000 to 2009. Produce is ranked based on a composite score, equally weighing six factors that reflect how many pesticides was found in testing of on each type of the produce and at what levels. Most samples are washed and peeled prior to being tested, so the rankings reflect the amounts of the chemicals likely present on the food when is it eaten.

Pesticides can be extremely toxic to human health and the environment. U.S. and international government agencies alike have linked pesticides to nervous system toxicity, cancer, hormone system disruption and IQ deficits among children.

EWG has released a list of 53 tested fruits & veggies. The full list can be found here.

Topping the list for produce with the most pesticides are:

  • Apples
  • Celery
  • Strawberries
  • Peaches
  • Spinach
  • Nectarines – imported
  • Grapes – imported
  • Sweet bell peppers
  • Potatoes
  • Blueberries – domestic
  • Lettuce
  • Kale/collard greens

Produce containing the least amount of pesticides include:

  • Asparagus
  • Avocado
  • Pineapples
  • Sweet Corn
  • Onions