Are You Eating these Pesticide-Laden Fruits and Vegetables?

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How can a concerned shopper know which fruits and vegetables are more likely to have pesticide residues? Enter the Environmental Working Guide's (EWG) Shopper's Guide to Pesticides in Produce.

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.

Read more about the healthiest fruits and vegetables

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 Organophosphates have been withdrawn from many agricultural uses and banned for home pesticides, but are still allowed on certain commercial crops.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."

Read more about pesticide use

Want to learn what other risky ingredients are in your food? Learn how to keep them away from your kids lunches by clicking the button below!

Photo Credit: Public Domain Photos

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Andrea Donsky, B. COMM is an international TV Health Expert, Best Selling Author, Nutritionist Podcast Host, and Founder of—a recipient of Healthline’s Best Healthy Living Blogs for 2019. As a pioneer and visionary in the health food industry, Andrea’s passion is to inspire people to make healthier choices. Andrea has combined her background and expertise as both a Registered Holistic Nutritionist and an entrepreneur ("She Boss!") to educate the public on living a healthy lifestyle through the creation of her businesses, books, articles, podcasts, videos, talks, and TV and radio media appearances. Andrea founded Naturally Savvy Media Inc. in 2007 in order to share her passion for healthy living, and love for natural products and companies. Among her numerous publications, Andrea co-authored Unjunk your Junk Food published by Simon and Schuster, a book that journalist, author and mother Maria Shriver endorsed: “Unjunk Your Junk Food has certainly made me more aware about the food that my children eat and the effects it has on our body and mind."</P. Andrea also co-authored two e-books entitled Label Lessons: Your Guide To A Healthy Shopping Cart, and Label Lessons: Unjunk Your Kid’s Lunch Box.