New list of 'Dirty Dozen' produce released

Strawberries, spinach top list of produce with the most pesticides

The strawberries you're eating probably have pesticides on them. In addition to strawberries and spinach, this year's list includes nectarines, apples, peaches, celery, grapes, pears, cherries, tomatoes, sweet bell peppers, and potatoes.

The EWG Shopper's Guide to Pesticides in Produce, ranks pesticide contamination of popular fruits and vegetables based on more than 36,000 samples of produce tested by the US Department of Agriculture and the Food and Drug Administration.

The AFF said the list's publication came in spite of fruit and vegetable consumption rates remaining low and studies showing consumers were less likely to purchase produce due to concerns over pesticide residues.

Strawberries remained at the top of the list with at least 20 pesticides, while spinach jumped into the second spot with twice as much pesticide residue by weight than any other crop.

The program's reports can run hundreds of pages long, however, so each year a non-profit called the Environmental Working Group (EWG) compiles the data into its "dirty dozen": a list of conventionally grown produce items with the worst track records when it comes to pesticide residues - and the ones EWG therefore recommends you buy organic. In a change from past year, potatoes and pears made the "Dirty Dozen". Heck, even the EWG believes we need to keep things in perspective, saying: "The health benefits of a diet rich in fruits and vegetables outweigh the risks of pesticide exposure".

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This list included, in order, sweet corn (including corn on the cob and frozen corn), avocados, pineapples, cabbage, onions, frozen sweet peas, papaya, asparagus, mangoes, eggplant, honeydew melon, kiwis, cantaloupe, cauliflower and grapefruit.

"From the surge in sales of organic food year after year", Lunder said, "it's clear that consumers would rather eat fruits and vegetables grown without synthetic pesticides". EWG found that more than 70% of 48 farms produce contaminated crops.

Among these 15, avocados and sweet corn were the cleanest - only 1 percent of samples showed any detectable pesticides, while more than 80 percent of pineapples, papayas, asparagus, onions and cabbage had no pesticide residues. Altogether, the group found 178 different types of pesticides.

Anxious about pesticide levels in your fruit and vegetables?

The EWG Shoppers Guide was released the same day as another report by the United Nations special rapporteur on the right to food was presented to the world body. Each crop is scored and ranked based on six criteria, including the amount and variety of pesticides found.

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