Do you use the Environmental Working Group’s 2022 Dirty Dozen and Clean 15 lists to help you do your produce shopping? Then grab your cloth bags and head out to the farmer’s market or the 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 samples of 47 different conventionally grown fruits and veggies for 2022. Before the produce was tested, it was washed and peeled. Overall, the analysis found many different pesticides on produce that were sold in the United States.
If you are a regular follower of the EWG lists, you will see two ol’ timers topping the 2022 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 2022 Dirty Dozen list
Here are a few other things you should know about the Dirty Dozen for 2022:
- Greater than 90 percent of samples of strawberries, apples, cherries, spinach, nectarines, and grapes tested positive for residues of two or more pesticides.
- Kale, collard, mustard greens, hot peppers, and bell peppers had the most pesticides detected, with 103 and 101 pesticides in total, respectively.
- A single sample of kale, collard, and mustard greens had more than 21 different pesticides.
- On average, spinach samples had 1.8 times as much pesticide residue by weight than any other crop tested.
- The pesticide most frequently detected on collards, mustard greens, and kale is DCPA – sold under the brand name Dacthal – which is classified by the EPA as a possible human carcinogen and which was banned by the EU in 2009.
- Other problematic pesticides on greens include potentially neurotoxic neonicotinoids and pyrethroids.
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 2022 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 unavailable or not feasible, thoroughly wash and/or peel conventionally grown fruits and vegetables to help ensure minimal exposure to pesticides.
Environmental Working Group. Dirty Dozen 2022
Environmental Working Group. Clean 15 2022
Environmental Working Group. Shoppers Guide to Pesticides in Produce.