As we head into the holidays, many of us will be cooking large meals and using fresh fruits and vegetables. I figure now is a good time for a quick refresher on the Dirty Dozen – those fruits and vegetables in the U.S. food supply that show the most pesticide residues.
Each summer, the Environmental Working Group (EWG) releases a list of fruits and vegetables ranking those with the most pesticide residues. The pesticide residue amounts come from testing by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) and include pesticides that are legal for use in the United States.
This year, the USDA tested 48 fruits and vegetables. The testing involved fruits and vegetables that are prepared as they are usually eaten by people. For instance, bananas are peeled, then tested. Strawberries are washed and hulled, then tested. Pesticide residues showed up on 67% of fruits and vegetable samples tested.
Fruits and vegetables are an important part of a healthy diet. The recommended daily intake is two servings of fruits and three servings of vegetables. Only about one third of Americans eat enough of either. Don’t let the Dirty Dozen list dissuade you from eating fruits and vegetables. Even a conventionally grown fruit or vegetable is better for you than a jelly doughnut.
The list is prepared so that we, as shoppers, can make informed decisions about which fruits and vegetables we buy. To my mind, more information is always better.
The Dirty Dozen are:
- Apples – the most pesticide residues of any fruit or vegetable on the list
- Sweet Bell Peppers
- Imported Nectarines
- Cherry Tomatoes
- Hot Peppers
The fruits and vegetables with the least amount of pesticide residues are:
- Sweet Corn – the least pesticide residues of any fruit or vegetable on the list
- Frozen Sweet Peas
The full list of fruits and vegetables is on EWG’s site. Read more about their methodology on their site.
The EWG has also released a list of endocrine disruptors to watch out for.
Red apples photo via Shutterstock