Do you use the Environmental Working Group's 2019 Dirty Dozen and Clean 15 lists to help you do your produce shopping? Then grab your cloth bags and head on out to the farmer's market and produce aisles!
Dirty or clean, fruits and vegetables are packed with nutrients and fiber and are a must on anyone's daily menu. But it helps to know which of your produce purchases may be packing more pesticides than others, especially if you cannot find organic options.
The EWG's analysis is based on data provided by the US Department of Agriculture and included 40,900 samples of 47 different conventionally grown fruits and veggies for 2019. Before the produce was tested, it was washed and peeled. Overall, the analysis found 225 different pesticides on produce that was sold in the United States.
If you are a regular follower of the EWG lists, you will see two ol' timers topping the 2019 Dirty Dozen list: strawberries and spinach. However, a surprising third place member is kale. More than 92 percent of the kale samples were found to have two or more pesticide residues on them. The most commonly detected pesticide was Dacthal, which was classified as a possible human carcinogen by the Environmental Protection Agency in 1995.
Overall, the EWG noted that nearly 70 percent of the fruits and vegetables sold in the United States have pesticide residues.
The 2019 Dirty Dozen list
Here are a few other things you should know about the Dirty Dozen for 2019:
- Conventionally grown spinach contains more pesticide residue by weight than any other produce tested by the USDA.
- 98 percent of nectarines contains at least one pesticide
- Conventionally grown apples are often treated with diphenylamine, which prevents the fruit from changing color during storage. Peeling the fruit may help remove the chemical, but with it goes much of the nutrients and fiber
- More than 90 percent of cherries tested positive for two or more pesticides
- Since 2010, the amount of pesticide residue on pears has more than doubled
- Celery was at the top of the EWG list in 2010, so it's doing better but you should still choose organic
Clean 15 list
The fruits and veggies that are the least contaminated with pesticides are included in the Clean 15 list. Here are the winners:
The EWG's 2019 Dirty Dozen and Clean 15 lists can help you make decisions about your fruit and vegetable purchases. However, generally it is best to choose organic produce whenever possible. When it is not available or feasible, be sure to thoroughly wash and/or peel conventionally grown fruits and vegetables to help ensure minimal exposure to pesticides.
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Environmental Working Group. EU-banned pesticide found on spinach. 2019 Mar 20
Environmental Working Group. Shoppers Guide to Pesticides in Produce.
Laseter E. The Dirty Dozen: which produce should I always buy organic? Cooking Light 2019 Mar 20
Staff. Strawberries, spinach and kale top 2019 "Dirty Dozen" list. Food Safety Magazine 2019 Mar 20