The Dirty Dozen & Clean Fifteen: The Most & Least Pesticide-Contaminated Fruits and Vegetables



Organic fruits and vegetables cost more than conventional ones — sometimes a lot more. But if you want to avoid pesticide exposure, is it always necessary to choose organic? Or are some conventional fruits and veggies less contaminated? In this article, we go in depth into the Environmental Working Group’s US-based report on the 12 dirtiest and 15 “cleanest” items of produce, to help you make smart decisions to protect yourself and your loved ones from harmful pesticides.

The agricultural industry is addicted to pesticides, and the entire world is paying the price. The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) reports that global pesticide use in 2012 amounted to approximately six billion pounds. Unfortunately, they haven’t published a report since then, but the number likely hasn’t improved and may have gotten worse.

While the term “pesticide” implies that these chemicals target and kill “pests,” a better name would be “biocides” (destroyers of life) because they do a lot more than poison pests.

Pesticides poison insects and pollinators; contaminate soil, water, and air; and can cause harm to farmworkers, agricultural communities, and people who eat produce sprayed with pesticides.

[Read More: Pesticides in Food: What You Should Know and Why it Matters

How common is it for US produce to have pesticide contamination? “Nearly 75% of nonorganic fresh produce sold in the US contains residues of potentially harmful pesticides,” according to the Environmental Working Group (EWG).

In this article, we’re going to review the most and least pesticide-contaminated produce, so you can make more informed fruit and vegetable purchases.



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