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The Dirty Dozen: supermarkets’ most contaminated produce

Strawberry growers use jaw-dropping volumes of poisonous gases – some developed for chemical warfare but now banned by the Geneva Conventions – to sterilize their fields before planting, killing every pest, weed and other living thing in the soil. For these reasons, strawberries are again on the top of the Dirty Dozen list for 2017. (File photo/Getty Images)

Strawberry growers use jaw-dropping volumes of poisonous gases – some developed for chemical warfare but now banned by the Geneva Conventions – to sterilize their fields before planting, killing every pest, weed and other living thing in the soil. For these reasons, strawberries are again on the top of the Dirty Dozen list for 2017. (File photo/Getty Images)

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Whether you’re an environmentalist, a parent or just a shopper, chances are you’ve walked down the produce aisle at the supermarket and asked yourself, “Should I buy organic or conventional fruits and vegetables?”
The latter has higher levels of pesticides​ but an all-organic diet ​is not always affordable or readily available. There are ways however, to eat healthier, even if you can’t fill your grocery basket with organic fruits and veggies.
The Environmental Working Group Shopper’s Guide to Pesticides in Produce ranks pesticide contamination of popular fruits and vegetables based on more than 36,000 samples of produce tested by the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the Food and Drug Administration.
The guide includes The Dirty Dozen, the produce with the highest amount of pesticide residue (better to buy organic) and the Clean Fifteen, the produce that is least likely to contain pesticide residue (these you can buy conventional).
Here is the list released today in descending order:

STRAWBERRIES

1. Strawberry growers use jaw-dropping volumes of poisonous gases – some developed for chemical warfare but now banned by the Geneva Conventions – to sterilize their fields before planting, killing every pest, weed and other living thing in the soil.
SPINACH
2. Spinach is packed with nutrients, a staple for healthy eating during the winter and spring. But new federal data shows that conventionally grown spinach has more pesticide residues by weight than all other produce tested, with 3/4 of samples tested contaminated with a neurotoxic bug killer.
NECTARINES
3. More than 98 percent of samples of nectarines tested positive for residue of at least one pesticide.
APPLES
4. Apples are among the Dirty Dozen’s top produce. Nearly all apples contain detectable levels of pesticide residue.
PEACHES
5. More than 98 percent of samples of peaches also tested positive for residue of at least one pesticide.
PEARS
6. Pesticides on conventionally grown pears have increased dramatically in recent years, according to the latest tests by the USDA. Overall, more than 20 pesticides were found on pear samples, up from nine pesticides in 2010. All pear samples were thoroughly washed before testing. The majority of pears tested were grow in the United States, not imported.
CHERRIES
7. Pesticides are applied to cherry trees at different stages of growth to optimize pest control and ensure a good fruit crop. This makes cherries one of the fruits with the highest loads of pesticide residue.
GRAPES
8. Grapes tested positive for a number of different pesticide residues and is among the top produce with the highest concentrations of pesticides.
CELERY
\9. Celery is among the top 10 of most contaminated foods. According to EWG, celery is sprayed with high concentrations of pesticides and that they are “difficult to wash off.”
TOMATOES
10. Tomatoes declined in ranking from last years list but still tested positive for a number of different pesticide residues and in higher concentrations than other produce.
BELL PEPPERS
11. Tests showed sweet bell peppers also contained high concentration of pesticide residues.
POTATOES
12. Potatoes and pears were new additions to the Dirty Dozen, displacing cherry tomatoes and cucumbers from last year’s list. (-Enviromental Working Group)


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