The Dirty Dozen
The Dirty Dozen Think a fresh spinach and strawberry salad is a healthy choice? Think again! In 2017 strawberries and spinach took first and second place, respectively, in the Environmental Working Group’s ranking of the “dirtiest” conventionally grown produce — the fruits and vegetables that carry the most pesticide residues even when they’ve been washed and sometimes peeled.
EWG analyzes tests conducted on 48 different types of produce by the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the Food and Drug Administration to create its annual Dirty Dozen — a list of the 12 foods sampled that contain the highest concentrations of pesticide residues. Here’s the list in order of contamination levels; the closer to the top of the list, the “dirtier” the food is:
Strawberries Spinach Nectarines Apples Peaches Pears Cherries Grapes Celery Tomatoes Sweet bell peppers Potatoes
Pears and potatoes are new to this year’s list, replacing cucumbers and lettuce, which are now Nos. 13 and 15, respectively.
“The most contaminated sample of strawberries had 20 different pesticides,” EWG writes in its 2017 release, and “spinach samples had an average of twice as much pesticide residue by weight than any other crop. Three-fourths of spinach samples also had residues of a neurotoxic pesticide banned in Europe for use on food crops — part of a class of pesticides that recent studies link to behavioral disorders in young children.”
It is especially important to limit babies’ and young children’s exposure to toxic chemicals, and one way to do that is to keep The Dirty Dozen in mind. Either buy produce on this list that’s grown organically or choose other, less-contaminated conventionally grown fruits and vegetables.
The Clean Fifteen EWG helps with that too. The Clean Fifteen is a list of the produce least likely to contain pesticide residues. The
better-choice list for 2017 includes: Sweet corn Avocados Pineapples Cabbage Onions Frozen sweet peas Papayas Asparagus Mangoes Eggplant Honeydew melon Kiwis Cantaloupe Cauliflower Grapefruit
Worth noting here is that avocados and sweet corn are the cleanest. “Only 1 percent of these samples showed any detectable pesticides,” EWG writes.
For more information about The Dirty Dozen, The Clean Fifteen, EWG’s methodology and other EWG environmental health projects, visit ewg.org.