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We know a diet high in fruit and vegetables is best for our health, but unfortunately hidden pesticide residue on our fruit and vegetables could be doing more harm than good. Have you heard of the “Dirty Dozen”? This is a list, published annually by the Environmental Working Group, which identifies the worst fruits and vegetables for pesticide contamination. The list is based on results of produce tested by the U.S. Department of Agriculture and Food and Drug Administration. The samples are tested for pesticides after they have been prepared to be eaten. This means the produce is thoroughly washed and, when applicable, peeled. After these preparations, pesticide residues are still detected on many of the fruits and veggies.

Whilst the study is U.S. based, it is still highly relevant to the Australian market, with imported fruit and vegetables for sale in our supermarkets. Those nominated on the Dirty Dozen list are the kind that you should really consider buying organic, to avoid pesticide consumption, if you can afford to. If you can’t afford organic all the time, try shopping at your local farmer’s market, where you can speak to growers directly about what is used on their produce. Whilst not always certified organic, some growers use alternative methods to avoid pesticide spray.

The 2017 EWG Dirty Dozen is:

  1. Strawberries
  2. Spinach
  3. Nectarines
  4.  Apples
  5. Peaches
  6. Pears
  7. Cherries
  8. Grapes
  9. Celery
  10. Tomatoes
  11. Sweet Bell Peppers
  12. Potatoes

EWG also publish a Clean 15 list, identifying the top 15 least likely to be contaminated.

Here’s the list for 2017:

  1. Sweet corn
  2. Avocados
  3. Pineapples
  4. Cabbage
  5. Onions
  6. Frozen Sweet Peas
  7. Papayas
  8. Asparagus
  9. Mangos
  10. Eggplant
  11. Honeydew
  12. Kiwi
  13. Cantaloupe
  14. Cauliflower
  15. Grapefruit

Full details of the EWG report can be found here. We also recommend their Frequently Asked Questions page for further information.