Published: Sun, March 24, 2019
Money | By Ethel Goodwin

Dirty Dozen & Clean Fifteen 2019: These Fruits & Veggies Have The Most Pesticides

Dirty Dozen & Clean Fifteen 2019: These Fruits & Veggies Have The Most Pesticides

The World Health organization says pesticides can be hazardous and have toxic effects.

Kale, that popular green of the health conscious, has joined the ignoble list of 12 fruits and vegetables with the most pesticide residues, according to the Environmental Working Group.

Rounding out the top five on the Dirty Dozen list were nectarines and apples, both of which had more than 90 percent of samples confirmed to have at least one pesticide residue.

What's more, in USDA's most recent round of tests, more than 92 percent of conventionally grown kale samples had at least two pesticide residues, with some samples containing residues from as many as 18 different pesticides. The latest report on kale found traces of Dacthal, which the Environmental Protection Agency classified as a possible human carcinogen. It includes avocados, sweet corn, pineapples, frozen sweet peas, onions, papayas, eggplants, asparagus, kiwis, cabbages, cauliflower, cantaloupes, broccoli, mushrooms and honeydew melons. Not only does kale rank third in the Environmental Working Group's (EWG) annual report, but it actually has higher pesticide residues than almost all other produce found on supermarket shelves.

Thorne noted a past study in the Journal of Toxicology that was critical of EWG's Dirty Dozen list, and found that eating organic produce didn't decrease consumer risk.

The annual EWG list ranks popular fruits and vegetables based on levels of contamination.

"There are many ways to promote organic produce without resorting to disparaging the more accessible forms of fruits and veggies that the science has repeatedly shown are safe", says Teresa Thorne, Executive Director of the Alliance for Food and Farming, which represents organic and conventional farmers of fruits and vegetables.

Kale and spinach samples had, on average, 10 to 80 percent more pesticide residue by weight than any other crop. No national registry of the pesticides used on fruit and vegetable crops exist, so it's not even clear which pesticides growers are spraying.

The data was from tests on fresh and processed foods, including fruits, vegetables, honey, milk and bottled water. "Furthermore, many stores put organic produce on sale, so keep your eyes open for bargains", she says.

Kale is known for being a source of vitamins and other nutrients, but the vegetable could also be tainted by cancer-causing pesticides. The American Academy of Pediatrics acknowledges there are reasons to be concerned about the exposure of developing children to pesticides, especially before birth.

Less than 1 percent of avocados and sweet corn samples had detectable pesticides and more than 70 percent of Clean Fifteen samples had none. But that shouldn't deter people who can't afford it from eating these items. "Fruits and vegetables are an important part of everyone's diet, and when it comes to some conventionally grown produce items, such as kale, choosing organic may be a better option".

Bottom line: A diet rich in fruits and vegetables is essential for health, so don't give up on them just because of the "dirty dozen" list.

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