Shopper’s Guide to Pesticides in Produce

The EWG tested thousands of produce samples, discovering 230 different pesticides and trace agricultural chemicals, and dramatic differences in the toxin loads of different fruits and vegetables. For instance, more than 98 percent of the sampled strawberries, cherries, and apples tested positive for at least one kind of pesticide, but less than 1 percent of avocados and sweet corn samples were contaminated. Spinach is also surprisingly loaded with pesticides; samples showed it contained almost twice the pesticide residue per weight as other crops.

This year’s publication also addresses the assumption that washing or peeling conventionally grown produce eliminates all traces of pesticide residue. In fact, over 70 percent of the sampled produce remained contaminated after washing or peeling.

While some readers might see these findings as a reason to avoid eating fresh fruits and vegetables altogether, the EWG guide offers a better solution. It defines the “Dirty Dozen” products that are best bought organic, and the “Clean Fifteen” crops

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