Every year, the Environmental Working Group releases a “Dirty Dozen” list of fruits and veggies that have the biggest level of residual pesticides as noted in government tests.
Here are the 12 fruits and vegetables that top the list of pesticide residues for 2019.
Strawberries have been at the top of the list for four years in a row now. The most recent report says that they are most likely to remain contaminated with pesticide residues, even after being washed. Tests found that the worst contaminated one contained 23 separate pesticide residues.
Spinach had fairly high amounts of a potentially brain-damaging neurotoxic insecticide called permethrin, which was detected on 76% of spinach samples.
Kale has edged nectarines out of third place this year. It has tested positive for Dacthal, which is a potential carcinogen. More than 92% of samples of kale tested positive for two or more pesticide residues.
Nectarines drop down a place this year, but more than 90% of nectarines, strawberries, apples, cherries, spinach, and kale samples tested positive for two or more pesticide residues.
Apples come in fifth this year, with samples containing 4.4 pesticide residues on average. Apples have improved slightly, as they topped the Dirty Dozen list from 2010 to 2015.
Grapes have dropped a place this time round. The Environmental Working Group annually ranks pesticide contamination in 47 popular fruits and vegetables for its Shopper’s Guide.
Peaches move from sixth to seventh spot this year. The Dirty Dozen and Clean 15 are based on more than 40,000 fruit and vegetable samples tested by the US Food and Drug Administration and the US Department of Agriculture.
Cherries move neither up nor down in the list this year.
Pears sit at number nine this year. The Environmental Working Group recommends that people buy and eat organic produce, especially those foods found on the Dirty Dozen list.
Tomatoes were ninth in 2018, so they’ve moved down one space. Research on pesticide effects on organisms is ongoing, and there is not yet a true understanding of what is considered to be the “safe” amount of pesticides.
Celery was 10th last year, and is now at 11th place. We shouldn’t stop eating fruits and vegetables, even though there is legitimate concern over the effects of pesticides.
Potatoes are nearly off the bottom of the list, having dropped from 11th place in 2018.