The Environmental Working Group (EWG) looks at data from the United States Department of Agriculture and the Food and Drug Administration every year. They look for the results of tests of foods grown that show the most and least amounts of pesticide contamination. They call their findings the Dirty Dozen and the Clean Fifteen. This year, strawberries once again topped the Dirty Dozen list with avocadoes and sweet corn being on the top of the Clean Fifteen.

For the sixth year in a row, the EWG has designated strawberries at the top of their Dirty Dozen foods list. The data they analyzed found that over 90% of tested strawberry samples had the detectable residue of at least two different pesticides.

But new research has found that consumption of two fungicides that are found on nearly 90% of citrus samples the EWG tested (as well as two other pesticides) may increase a woman's risk of developing postmenopausal breast cancer.

The study was published in the International Journal of Epidemiology and suggests that the amounts legally 'allowed' may still be putting us at risk.

The highlighted chemicals were hormone-disrupting fungicides. Fungicides imazalil and thiabendazole (don't those sound delicious?), as well as neurotoxic insecticides chlorpyrifos (which recently was forbidden to be used in human-grade foods) and malathion, were found to contaminate 90% of citrus the EWG studied.
The study finding exposure increased breast cancer risk looked at the answers of more than 13,000 French women to estimate their daily pesticide intake based on the foods they ate.

Exposure to the synthetic pesticides imazalil, chlorpyrifos, malathion and thiabendazole, showed a 73% increase in breast cancer risk. Diets low in synthetic pesticides and high in organic foods have been associated with a 43 percent REDUCTION in breast cancer risk, however.

We know not every family can afford to buy safe, chemical-free foods. Organic or 'clean' fruits and vegetables are pricey for many families and that's near sinful considering the consumption of such fruits and vegetables has been linked to everything from cardiovascular problems to fertility problems to cancer.

The EWG recommends choosing organic produce whenever possible, but knows that this isn't always feasible. That's where the Dirty Dozen and Clean Fifteen come in--to show what you should be careful about in buying when it comes to organic or conventional.

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
And while it's good and well to attempt to buy organic as much as you can--what really needs to happen is more support of local, clean and green farmers and organic products being affordable. This will only come when we advocate for cleaner, safer foods for us all, and large-scale manufacturers stop looking to make the most pennies at the expense of our health and the health of our children.

Images: Natalia Lisovskaya/Shutterstock