What are the most contaminated fresh produce items? The Environmental Working Group (EWG) annually puts out the list of the most contaminated with pesticides, called The Dirty Dozen. Read on and see what made this year’s list.

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The list is part of the EWG’s Shopper’s Guide to Pesticides in Produce, which uses data from the Department of Agriculture to find produce with the highest and lowest levels of pesticides. 2021’s test found that 70% of non-organic produce sold in the country contains residues of pesticides.

This year’s list included bell peppers and hot peppers and kale took the number 3 spot for fresh produce with high pesticide levels. Here are the dirty dozen:

  1. Strawberries
  2. Spinach
  3. Kale, collard, and mustard greens
  4. Nectarines
  5. Apples
  6. Grapes
  7. Cherries
  8. Peaches
  9. Pears
  10. Bell and hot peppers
  11. Tomatoes
  12. Celery

“Whether organic or conventionally grown, fruits and vegetables are critical components of a healthy diet,” said EWG toxicologist Thomas Galligan, Ph.D. “We urge consumers who are concerned about their pesticide intake to consider, when possible, purchasing organically grown versions of the foods on EWG’s Dirty Dozen, or conventional produce from our Clean Fifteen.”

Alternatively, consumers should look to the Clean Fifteen list for produce with the least amount of pesticide residue:

  1. Avocados
  2. Sweet corn
  3. Pineapples
  4. Onions
  5. Papayas
  6. Sweet peas (frozen)
  7. Eggplants
  8. Asparagus
  9. Broccoli
  10. Cabbages
  11. Kiwis
  12. Cauliflower
  13. Mushrooms
  14. Honeydew melons
  15. Cantaloupes

The use of neonicotinoid insecticides is linked to a reduction of grassland and insectivorous birds, a 4% and 3% decline respectively for each type. Because the pesticides cling to the stalk, nectar, and pollen of plants, multiple food types are impacted. To make matters worse, the Trump administration rolled back restrictions on neonicotinoids and added a new type of neonicotinoids for use in 2019.

Sign this petition to ban neonicotinoids!

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