The Dirty Dozen

Santa Fe New Mexican - Healthy Living - - CONTENTS - — PA­TRI­CIA WEST-BARKER

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

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