Strawberries top ‘Dirty Dozen’ list for pesticides — again

Strawberries just got a raspberry — again — from a consumer watchdog.

For the third year in a row, the sweet fruits top the “Dirty Dozen” list of the most pesticide-tainted produce, according to the Environmental Working Group.

Spinach, nectarines, apples, grapes, peaches, cherries, pears, tomatoes, celery, potatoes and sweet bell peppers round out the top 12 in the nonprofit, nonpartisan organization’s guide to the most contaminated fruits and veggies.

The roster — now in its 14th year and designed to help consumers “make better choices and…reduce exposure” to chemicals — is based on analyzing recent pesticide-related tests by the Department of Agriculture.

While pesticides boost crop yields, there are concerns about the impact on people who consume food produced this way — even with Maximum Residue Limits of pesticides that have been set by the government.

Pesticides can be used to kill any number of pests — insects, plants, molds and rodents. Studies have linked pesticide-laden produce to everything from asthma and cancer to fertility problems and brain conditions.

“All adults and children should eat more fruits and vegetables, whether they are organic or conventionally grown,” the EWG noted on its site. But the group urges consumers who eat the dirty dozen produce to go the organic route.

Rinsing produce under tap water for 30 seconds is an effective way to get rid of pesticide residues, according to the Connecticut Agricultural Experiment Station, CNN reports.

On another note, the EWG’s “Clean Fifteen” list reveals the produce containing the least amount of pesticides.

Avocados lead the list this year, followed by sweet corn, pineapples, cabbage, onions, frozen sweet peas, papayas, asparagus, mangoes, eggplant, honeydew melon, kiwi, cantaloupe, cauliflower and broccoli.

“It is vitally important that everyone eats plenty of produce, but it is also wise to avoid dietary exposure to toxic pesticides, from conception through childhood,” said Sonya Lunder, senior analyst with EWG.

“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.”

Nectarines are No. 3 on the 12 most pesticide-packed fruits and veggies.
Nectarines are No. 3 on the 12 most pesticide-packed fruits and veggies. (Mel Evans/AP)

Dirty Dozen

1. Strawberries

2. Spinach

3. Nectarines

4. Apples

5. Grapes

6. Peaches

7. Cherries

8. Pears

9. Tomatoes

10. Celery

11. Potatoes

12. Sweet bell peppers

Plus: Hot peppers

Avocados have bragging rights this year to topping the Clean Fifteen producer roster.
Avocados have bragging rights this year to topping the Clean Fifteen producer roster. (Mark Lennihan/AP)

Clean Fifteen

1. Avocados

2. Sweet corn

3. Pineapples

4. Cabbages

5. Onions

6. Sweet peas, frozen

7. Papayas

8. Asparagus

9. Mangoes

10. Eggplants

11. Honeydew melons

12. Kiwis

13. Cantaloupes

14. Cauliflower

15. Broccoli

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