The apple tops the list of the dirtiest, most pesticide-contaminated produce
for the third year in a row, according to the Environmental Working Group's annual Dirty Dozen list released Monday.
The EWG ranks pesticide contamination on 48 of the most popular fruits and vegetables using analysis of more than 28,000 samples tested by the U.S. Department of Agriculture and federal Food and Drug Administration. Government scientists wash or peel the samples before testing them so the results reflect what the American public is actually consuming.
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The organization’s ranking uses "six measures of pesticide hazards, among them, the number of pesticides detected on a crop and the percent of samples testing positive," according to the EWG.
Rounding out the top five behind apples are celery, sweet bell peppers, peaches, and strawberries. Nectarines, grapes, spinach, lettuce, cucumbers, blueberries, and potatoes make up the rest of the Dirty Dozen.
The EWG also released a Clean 15 list of the fruits and vegetables with the lowest pesticide load. Among the cleanest foods are corn, onions, pineapples, avocados, cabbage, frozen sweet peas, papayas, mangoes, asparagus, eggplant, kiwi, grapefruit, cantaloupe, sweet potatoes, and mushrooms.
"When given a choice, more consumers are choosing organic fruits and vegetables or using EWG’s Shopper’s Guide to find an easy affordable way to avoid toxic chemicals," Sonya Lunder, an EWG senior analyst, said in a statement. "They want to eat a diet rich in fruits and vegetables without eating too many pesticides. And they want to support local farms and agriculture that is better for the environment."
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For the second year, the EWG has expanded the Dirty Dozen with a Plus category to highlight two crops — domestically-grown summer squash and leafy greens, specifically kale and collards. These crops did not meet traditional Dirty Dozen criteria but were commonly contaminated with pesticides exceptionally toxic to the nervous system, scientists found.
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