In a perfect world, everyone would buy organic, but, for some families, the decision is not that simple. Whether it’s due to a limited availability of organic produce at grocery stores near you or you just can’t afford to spend sometimes twice the amount (or more) for organic produce, some families have no choice but to purchase conventional fruits and vegetables. The problem? Conventional fruits and vegetables in our country contain significantly higher levels of pesticides than their organic counterparts.
But even those who stick to an all-organic diet are not totally in the clear. That’s why each year the Environmental Working Group Shopper’s Guide to Pesticides in Produce ranks pesticide contamination of popular fruits and vegetables available for consumers to buy all over the country. The report for 2017, which was just released this past Wednesday, analyzed more than 36,000 samples of produce that’s been tested by the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the Food and Drug Administration to determine which produce contains the highest amount of pesticide residue (the Dirty Dozen) and which produce is least likely to contain pesticide residue (the Clean Fifteen).
This year, the annual report found that a whopping 70 percent of the 48 non-organic samples of produce tested positive for at least one pesticide—and, in many cases, this number was even higher. A single strawberry, for example, tested positive for 20 different types of pesticide residue landing the fruit the top spot on the Dirty Dozen list for 2017. This is pretty alarming, especially considering the fact that Americans eat approximately 8 pounds of fresh strawberries per person each year. And, even when you wash and rinse them they’re still likely to be contaminated with this pesticide residue, reports the Environmental Working Group.
Next up on the Dirty Dozen list is spinach, one of the most nutritious and versatile veggies we rely on for nourishment. Researchers found that conventionally grown spinach (non-organic) has more pesticide residues by weight than any other produce tested—some samples even contained DDT, a neurotoxic insecticide banned in the U.S.! In 2016, spinach was ranked eighth on the Dirty Dozen list, which shows a sharp increase in the levels of pesticide residue.
The results are always eye-opening, especially for those of us doing our very best to put clean and nutritious food on the table for our family. That’s why I always recommend choosing only organic whenever possible. If your budget or circumstance don’t allow it, try following this list to ensure at the very least that you’re staying away from the most contaminated produce out there.
The 2017 Dirty Dozen List:
- Sweet Bell Peppers
The 2017 Clean 15 List:
- Sweet corn
- Frozen Sweet Peas