2019 Dirty Dozen report: what produce has the most pesticides

Leslie Penkunas//March 20, 2019

2019 Dirty Dozen report: what produce has the most pesticides

Leslie Penkunas//March 20, 2019

Nearly 70 percent of the produce sold in the U.S. comes with pesticide residues, according to the Environmental Working Group (EWG), a national non-profit, non-partisan organization dedicated to protecting human health and the environment. Each year, it analyzes test data from the Department of Agriculture (USDA) for its Shopper’s Guide to Pesticides in Produce.

According to EWG, the most surprising news from the USDA tests is that the popular health food kale is among the most contaminated fruits and vegetables. More than 92 percent of kale samples had two or more pesticide residues detected, and a single sample could contain up to 18 different residues. The most frequently detected pesticide, found on nearly 60 percent of kale samples, was Dacthal, or DCPA – classified by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) since 1995 as a possible human carcinogen, and prohibited in Europe since 2009.

Overall, the USDA found 225 different pesticides and pesticide breakdown products on popular fruits and vegetables Americans eat every day. Before testing, all produce was washed and peeled, just as people would prepare food for themselves, which shows that simple washing does not remove all pesticides.

The USDA had not tested kale for almost a decade. But even as its popularity as a food rich in vitamins and antioxidants has soared, the level and number of pesticide residues found on kale has increased significantly. Additionally, more than 90 percent of samples of strawberries, apples, cherries, spinach, nectarines, and kale tested positive for residues of two or more pesticides.

EWG’s Dirty Dozen for 2019 (fruits and vegetables with the most pesticides)

  1. Strawberries
  2. Spinach
  3. Kale
  4. Nectarines
  5. Apples
  6. Grapes
  7. Peaches
  8. Cherries
  9. Pears
  10. Tomatoes
  11. Celery
  12. Potatoes

The EWG also analyzed the USDA data to produce the “Clean Fifteen,” its list of the fruits and vegetables that have few, if any, detected pesticide residues.

The Clean 15 for 2019

  1. Avocados
  2. Sweet corn
  3. Pineapples
  4. Frozen sweet peas
  5. Onions
  6. Papayas
  7. Eggplants
  8. Asparagus
  9. Kiwis
  10. Cabbages
  11. Cauliflower
  12. Cantaloupes
  13. Broccoli
  14. Mushrooms
  15. Honeydew melons