Every year, the Environmental Working Group (EWG) issues its Dirty Dozen Fruits and Vegetables. This is a list of the twelve types of produce that are likely to be highest in pesticides. These “dirtiest” among fruits and veggies have been making the list since 2004.
This year, as has been the case for many years, strawberries have topped the list. Strawberries have been the leader among the Dirty Dozen Fruits and Vegetables for many years due to the high amount of pesticides they absorb.
The list has been published since 2004 by the EWG, which is a nonprofit, nonpartisan environmental organization. The Dirty Dozen Fruits and Vegetables include the “dirtiest” among 47 popular produce items commonly found in supermarkets. It specifically measures the pesticides on and in these items and publishes the list in its Shopper’s Guide to Pesticides in Produce.
The pesticides such as those found in the Dirty Dozen Fruits and Vegetables are technically poisons. They are chemicals used to kill unwanted plants, insects, rodents and molds. These chemicals are meant to be used at a level that will be toxic to pests but not to humans.
Aside from strawberries, spinach was next on this year’s Dirty Dozen Fruits and Vegetables. The rest, in order of “dirtiest” foods were: nectarines, apples, grapes, peaches, cherries, pears, tomatoes, celery, potatoes, and sweet bell peppers. They all contained pesticide residues as well as higher pesticide concentrations than the other produce types tested.
The 2018 list found that about 70 percent of non-organic, conventionally grown fruits ad veggies were contaminated with pesticides. The testing was high enough that this year’s shopper’s guide included a thirteenth item on the Dirty Dozen Fruits and Vegetables. Tests found that hot peppers were also notably higher in pesticides than other fruits and veggies.
The average strawberry sample contained 20 pesticides according to the testing. Over 98 percent of the tested strawberries, spinach, peaches, nectarines, cherries and apples contained at least one form of pesticide residue. The average spinach sample contained 1.8 times more pesticide residues than any other crop on the list, when measured by weight.
While this doesn’t necessarily suggest that the “dirty” crops are dangerous, many consumers appreciate the information. It is common to use the results on this list to determine which organic produce to buy.