The Environmental Working Group, a non-profit research organization, has released their annual “Dirty Dozen” and “Clean 15″ lists of fruits and veggies ranked by pesticide contamination.
In the eight edition of the “Shopper’s Guide to Pesticides in Produce” researchers analyzed annual pesticide residue tests conducted by the USDA and federal Food and Drug Administration between 2000 and 2010. The samples were first washed or peeled prior to being tested so the rankings reflect the amounts of the crop chemicals likely present on the food when is it eaten. The tests examined pesticide loads of 45 common fruits and vegetables.
EWG makes clear that despite pesticide exposure, the health benefits outweigh the risks of eating fruits and vegetables. Rather, they encourage shoppers to use their guide to determine which fruits and veggies should be bought organic.
Research published in Environmental Health Perspectives in April found that a pregnant woman’s exposure to common pesticides could pose risks to her fetus similar to those associated with smoking tobacco. Researcher Dr. Bruce Lanphear suggested that households should buy organic or choose produce with lower concentrations of pesticides.
The good news for consumers who avoid pesticides is that EWG found that of the “Clean Fifteen” fruits and vegetables, the individual samples contained five or less different chemicals.
EWG president Ken Cook said in the press release, “Environmentalists have had important successes in forcing pesticides that presented unacceptably high dietary risks off the market. The latest USDA tests show we have much more work to do.”
The following is EWG’s “Clean 15″ list of the “cleanest conventional produce”:
#2 Sweet Corn
#6 Sweet Peas
#12 Sweet Potatoes