The “Dirty Dozen” And “Clean 15” Fruits And Veggies Of 2018

Once again, strawberries top the list of the 12 “dirtiest” fruits and vegetables, according to the Environmental Working Group.

Every year since 2004, the group — a nonprofit, nonpartisan environmental organization — ranked pesticide contamination in 47 popular fruits and vegetables for its Shopper’s Guide To Pesticides And Produce
Pesticides include a wide array of chemicals that kill unwanted insects, plants, molds and rodents.
Spinach is the second dirtiest item on the “Dirty Dozen” list, followed by (in order of contamination) nectarines, apples, grapes, peaches, cherries, pears, tomatoes, celery, potatoes and sweet bell peppers. Each of these foods tested positive for pesticide residues and contained higher concentrations of pesticides than other produce.
In fact, nearly 70% of conventionally grown — non-organic — produce samples were contaminated, the tests indicated.
The shopper’s guide is based on results of tests by the US Department of Agriculture and the Food and Drug Administration on more than 38,800 non-organic samples. The Environmental Working Group looks at six measures of contamination including the average number of pesticides found on samples and the average amount of pesticides found.
When testing samples, the USDA personnel wash or peel produce to mimic consumer practices.
A single sample of strawberries showed 20 pesticides, the report indicated. More than 98% of strawberries, spinach, peaches, nectarines, cherries and apples tested positive for at least one pesticide residue. And, on average, spinach samples had 1.8 times as much pesticide residue by weight than any other crop.
Consumers who want to eat the dirty dozen fruits and veggies should buy organic, according to the organization. Rinsing produce under tap water is an effective way to eliminate pesticide residues from produce, according to the Connecticut Agricultural Experiment Station, a government-run scientific group. Scientists there advocate rinsing all fresh produce under tap water for a minimum of 30 seconds before using.
On a positive note, the Environmental Working Group also creates a lesser-known companion to the Dirty Dozen: the “Clean 15” guide to produce containing the least amount of pesticides.
Avocados lead 2018’s clean fruits and veggies list, followed by sweet corn, pineapples, cabbage, onions, frozen sweet peas, papayas, asparagus, mangoes, eggplant, honeydew melon, kiwi, cantaloupe, cauliflower and broccoli.
Veggies placed in the top two spots — avocados and sweet corn — both showed pesticides on less than 1% of tested samples, the new report indicated. And more than 80% of pineapples, papayas, asparagus, onions and cabbages tested negative for pesticide residues.