2020 Dirty Dozen and Clean Fifteen Foods

rasins test high for pesticides
Nearly 70 percent of the fresh produce sold in the U.S. contains residues of potentially harmful chemical pesticides, according to the Environmental Working Group (EWG) analysis of the latest test data from the federal Department of Agriculture. But the dirtiest produce commodity, according to the USDA’s Pesticide Data Program, is not a fresh fruit or vegetable but a dried one – raisins.

 

Traditionally, the EWG’s Shopper’s Guide to Pesticides in Produce™ has included fresh fruits and vegetables only. But because the USDA tested raisins last year for the first time since 2007, the EWG decided to see how they would fare on the Dirty Dozen™ – the annual ranking of the fruits and vegetables with the most pesticides.
Almost every sample of non-organic raisins tested – 99 percent – had residues of at least two pesticides. On the 2020 Dirty Dozen, raisins would rank worst of all fruits tested, including strawberries, nectarines, apples and cherries, all of which had residues of two or more pesticides on at least 90 percent of samples.

 

As with last year’s Shopper’s Guide, kale ranks third on the 2020 Dirty Dozen list. Even as kale’s popularity as a health food rich in vitamins and antioxidants has soared in recent years, the level and type of pesticide residues on kale has expanded significantly.

 

In USDA’s most recent tests, the pesticide most frequently detected on kale was DCPA, sold under the brand name Dacthal. The Environmental Protection Agency classifies DCPA as a possible human carcinogen, and in 2009 the European Union banned it.
Whether organic or conventionally grown, fruits and vegetables are critical components of a healthy diet. However, many crops contain potentially harmful pesticides, even after washing, peeling or scrubbing, which the USDA does before testing each item. Since pesticide contamination varies by crop, it is important to understand which items are most or least contaminated.

 

Also important to note is that the USDA does not test for all pesticides used in crop production. Notably, it does not analyze glyphosate, or Roundup, the most heavily used pesticide in the U.S., but high levels can be found in several grains and beans, such as oats and chickpeas, due to its increasing use as a pre-harvest drying agent.

 

EWG’s Dirty Dozen for 2020
EWG’s Clean Fifteen for 2020
  1. Strawberries
  2. Spinach
  3. Kale
  4. Nectarines
  5. Apples
  6. Grapes
  7. Peaches
  8. Cherries
  9. Pears
  10. Tomatoes
  11. Celery
  12. Potatoes
  1. Avocado
  2. Sweet Corn
  3. Pineapple
  4. Onion
  5. Papaya
  6. Sweet Peas Frozen
  7. Eggplant
  8. Asparagus
  9. Cauliflower
  10. Cantaloupes
  11. Broccoli
  12. Mushrooms
  13. Cabbage
  14. Honeydew Melon
  15. Kiwi
Article adapted from ewg.org.

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