One of the most common reasons people choose organic produce is to avoid harmful chemicals used in growing the food. Pesticides have been linked to developmental problems in children, and may act as carcinogens or throw off the endocrine system, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.
To help you stock the safest choices, nonprofit advocacy agency the Environmental Working Group (EWG) has once again released its list of the most pesticide-contaminated produce. The Dirty Dozen, part of the EWG’s yearly Shopper’s Guide to Pesticides in Produce, is compiled from U.S. Department of Agriculture pesticide residue data on 48 fruits and veggies. About two-thirds of the produce samples test positive, and apples top the ranking for the fifth year in a row.
“The bottom line is people do not want to eat pesticides with their fruits and vegetables,” Ken Cook, the EWG’s president and cofounder, said in a statement. “That’s why we will continue telling shoppers about agricultural chemicals that turn up on their produce, and we hope we will inform, and ultimately, empower them to eat cleaner.”
The accompanying Clean 15, which lists the produce least likely to carry pesticide residue, can will also help in store decisions.
The average potato sample was found to carry more pesticides by weight than any of the other foods tested.
- Snap Peas (Imported)
The snap pea sample carried 13 different pesticides.
- Cherry Tomatoes
A single sample of cherry tomatoes tested positive for 13 different pesticides.
Still ranked ninth on the list.
- Sweet Bell Peppers
Contained 15 pesticides.
Dropped by one from sixth last year to seventh this year.
… and The Clean Fifteen
- Sweet Corn
- Sweet Peas (Frozen)
- Sweet Potatoes
Source: Huffington Post, Environmental Working Group