The Environmental Working Group released its 2020 Dirty Dozen list, a “Shopper’s Guide to Pesticides in Produce,” and it serves as a solid reminder that we still have a lot of work to do when it comes to cleaning up the food system. This year, the report found that almost 70 percent of non-organic samples tested positive for at least one pesticide. (In many cases, the numbers were much higher.) And get this: Non-organic kale samples harbored 18 different pesticide and pesticide breakdown residues.
In USDA’s most recent tests, kale’s most common chemical contaminant was Dacthal, or DCPA, a chemical banned in the European Union since 2009 and a possible human carcinogen, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.
Thankfully, EWG’s report also features a “Clean 15” list, which identifies the non-organic produce least likely to be contaminated with pesticide levels. I advise choosing and growing organic as often as possible, but if you’re on a budget or your selection is limited, these lists help you focus your attention on avoiding the most contaminated fruits and veggies. Because one thing is clear: most of us need more vegetables and fruits in our diets.
EWG’s Dirty Dozen
Bonus: Hot Peppers
EWG’s Clean 15
The Clean 15 list includes produce that is least likely to be contaminated by pesticides. Here are some highlights from the Clean 15 list:
Here’s the 2020 Clean 15 List:
* Note: Some sweet corn, papaya and summer squash sold in the United States are GMOs, so choose organic to avoid GMOs.
Generally, EWG focuses on test results from USDA’s fresh produce testing. But because the latest round of pesticide residue testing also looked at raisins, EWG included the dried fruit in this year’s rankings.
And what the organization found is startling, and all the more reason to reach for organic when you’re shopping for raisins. Raisins scored worse than strawberries, nectarines, apples and cherries. In fact, 99 precent of raisins contained at least two pesticides.
“This year, the USDA included testing data for raisins and found that 99 percent of conventional raisins had two or more pesticides residues and, on average, a single sample contained 13 different pesticides,” Temkin told DrAxe.com. “If raisins were included in our fresh produce rankings, they would have outranked strawberries as the food with the most pesticide residues.”
Interestingly, pesticides were even found on organic raisins, prompting researchers to note that prunes tend to have lower pesticide residues than both conventional and organic raisins.
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