Beware of the conventional strawberry, the Environmental Working Group warns. The avocado, meanwhile, is the safest.
For the past five years, the apple has bested all other fruits and vegetables as the most toxic produce selection on the market. However, according to the Environmental Working Group’s 2016 Dirty Dozen report, which measures the levels of pesticides on American produce each year, a new fruit is taking the title: strawberries.
Although packed with antioxidants, conventionally grown strawberries are also laden with pesticides. According to the EWG, 98 percent of the washed strawberry samples examined by federal officials had detectable pesticide residue. Roughly 40 percent of the samples contained 10 or more pesticides, some with as many as 17.
But while strawberries take the cake as the dirtiest fruit, the summer staple isn’t the only item that you need to watch out for. Also on this year’s Dirty Dozen: Peaches, nectarines, and apples had at least one pesticide on 98 percent of the samples tested, and potatoes were loaded with the most pesticides by weight than any other item in the produce section.
This is how the whole list played out:
• Sweet bell peppers
• Cherry tomatoes
Strawberries are typically grown in California, where each acre of land is doused with 300 pounds of pesticides. “It is startling to see how heavily strawberries are contaminated with residues of hazardous pesticides, but even more shocking is that these residues don’t violate the weak U.S. laws and regulations on pesticides in food,” said EWG senior analyst Sonya Lunder in a press release.
You can rest easy and buy the 2016 Clean Fifteen conventionally, says Lunder. None of the produce on the list tested positive for upward of four pesticides, and only a smattering had more than one.
Avocados took the top spot for cleanliness, with less than 1 percent of samples testing positive for pesticide residue.
• Sweet corn
• Sweet peas (frozen)
• Honeydew melon