This is the ninth year the EWG has produced the guide ranking pesticide contamination of 48 popular fruits and vegetables. The results come from analysis of more than 28,000 samples tested by the USDA and FDA. The Dirty Dozen lists the fruits and vegetables with the most pesticide load. The most contaminated fruit are: apples, strawberries, grapes, peaches and imported nectarines, while the most contaminated vegetables are celery, spinach, sweet bell peppers, cucumbers, potatoes, cherry tomatoes and hot peppers.
Every sample of imported nectarines tested positive for pesticides, as did 99 percent of apple samples tested. Just one grape tested positive for 15 pesticides, and so did one sweet bell pepper. Single samples of celery, cherry tomatoes and sweet bell peppers tested positive for 13 different pesticides.
This year is the second year the EWG expanded the Dirty Dozen with a Plus category to add two more crops: summer squash, kale and collards. The most recent USDA tests for kale and collards, in 2008, found that some samples contained organophosphate pesticides, which are described in the Guide as "potent neurotoxins that can affect children's IQ and brain development, even at low doses." Organophosphates have been withdrawn from many agricultural uses and banned for home pesticides, but are still allowed on certain commercial crops.
The Guide also contains the Clean Fifteen list, fruits and vegetables containing the least pesticide load. The list includes: asparagus, avocados, cabbage, cantaloupe, sweet corn, eggplant, grapefruit, kiwi, mangos, mushroom, onions, papayas, pineapples, sweet peas (frozen), and sweet potatoes. Less than 11 percent of pineapple samples had detectable pesticides, as did 78 percent of mangos, 75 percent of kiwi, and 61 percent of cantaloupe. No single fruit sample tested positive for more than four types of pesticides.
"When given a choice, more consumers are choosing organic fruits and vegetables or using EWG's Shopper's Guide to find an easy affordable way to avoid toxic chemicals," said Sonya Lunder, an EWG senior analyst. "They want to eat a diet rich in fruits and vegetables without eating too many pesticides. And they want to support local farms and agriculture that is better for the environment."
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Photo Credit: Public Domain Photos