Strawberries Number 1 (Again) On the 'Dirty Dozen'

EWG's 2018 Shopper's Guide to Pesticides in Produce

Pixabay/allanlau2000Strawberries reportedly contain the largest amount of pesticides compared to other fruits and vegetables, according to a report from an environmental organization. The alternative to consuming conventional produce is consuming organic produce, or no produce at all. The "Clean Fifteen" list includes - in order - avocados, sweet corn, pineapples, cabbages, onions, frozen sweet peas, papayas, asparagus, mangoes, eggplants, honeydew melons, kiwis, cantaloupe, cauliflower and broccoli.

Strawberry season is just around the corner, but before you chow down on a pint or two of the sweet red berries, know this: Strawberries contain more pesticide residue than other popular fruits and vegetables.

The EWG analyzed tests by the U.S. Department of Agriculture that found almost 70 percent of the conventionally grown produce samples were contaminated with pesticide residue.

Rinsing produce under tap water is an effective way to eliminate pesticide residues from produce, according to the Connecticut Agricultural Experiment Station, a government-run scientific group.

"With EWG's guide, consumers can fill their fridges and fruit bowls with plenty of healthy conventional and organic produce that isn't contaminated with multiple pesticide residues", the group's Senior Analyst Sonya Lunder said.

A single sample of strawberries had 20 different pesticides.

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Twenty-five years after the National Academy of Sciences issued a landmark report raising concerns about children's exposure to toxic pesticides through their diets, Americans still consume a mixture of pesticides every day. Tomatoes, celery, potatoes and sweet bell peppers finish out the "dirty dozen". "The fresh produce industry seeks to ensure a safe, efficient and timely supply chain, allowing consumers to experience fresh fruits and vegetables at the peak of their performance". Both studies drew from couples seeking treatment at a fertility clinic, and found that the frequency of eating fruits and vegetables with fewer pesticide residues was not associated with fertility outcomes.

For the third year in a row, strawberries take the top spot as the fruit that has the most residual pesticides on them. The study led to enactment of the 1996 Food Quality Protection Act, which set safety standards for pesticides on foods.

Some produce groups call the EWG's guide misleading and counterproductive to efforts encouraging Americans to eat more fruits and vegetables. And more than 80% of pineapples, papayas, asparagus, onions and cabbages tested negative for pesticide residues.

The "Clean Fifteen" list noted all the least-contaminated produce.

Avocados and sweet corn were the cleanest.