For the first time, strawberries top the 2016 list for containing the highest amount of pesticide residue among 50 popular fruits and vegetables.
Each year, the Environmental Working Group (EWG) analyzes pesticide residue data from the U.S. Department of Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and ranks the produce accordingly, popularly known as the “Dirty Dozen.”
Interestingly, in the berry realm, raspberries came in way down the list at No. 23. Imported blueberries scored better (No. 19) than domestic blueberries (No. 14), so it’s safer to buy the imported variety of this superfood.
Key Findings From the 2016 Report
- More than 98 percent of strawberry samples, peaches, nectarines, and apples tested positive for at least one pesticide residue.
- The average potato had more pesticides by weight than any other produce.
- A single grape sample and a sweet bell pepper sample contained 15 pesticides.
- Single samples of strawberries showed 17 different pesticides.
“Americans eat nearly 8 pounds of fresh strawberries a year—and with them, dozens of pesticides, including chemicals that have been linked to cancer and reproductive damage or are banned in Europe,” according to a statement by EWG’s Bill Walker and Sonya Lunder.
In California, where most domestic strawberries are grown, each acre is treated with 300 pounds of pesticides, according to EWG.
“Strawberries tested by scientists at the U.S. Department of Agriculture in 2009 and 2014 bore an average of 5.75 different pesticides per sample, compared to 1.74 pesticides per sample for all other produce, according to a new EWG analysis,” the statement said.
USDA’s 2014 Findings for Strawberries
- Almost all samples—98 percent—had detectable residues of at least one pesticide.
- Some 40 percent had residues of 10 or more pesticides.
- The dirtiest strawberry sample had residues of 17 different pesticides.
- Strawberry growers used 60 different pesticides in various combinations.
Nearly three-fourths of the 6,953 produce samples tested by the U.S. Department of Agriculture in 2014 contained pesticide residues, according to the EWG website.
The group’s “Clean Fifteen” can be used by consumers who are looking for the least pesticide-tained food. Of course, organic food is always the safest to eat.
EWG’s Full List for 2016
The items are listed from the highest amount of pesticide residue (strawberries) down to the lowest (avocados).
- Sweet bell peppers
- Cherry tomatoes
- Snap peas (imported)
- Blueberries (domestic)
- Hot peppers
- Kale and collard greens
- Blueberries (imported)
- Green beans
- Winter squash
- Summer squash
- Snap peas (domestic)
- Green onions
- Sweet potatoes
- Honeydew melon
- Sweet peas, frozen
- Sweet corn