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The Dirty Dozen

Touch the Soil News #646 (Feature Photo – David Monniaux CC SA 3.0)

The Dirty Dozen pertains to the 12 foods most contaminated by pesticides. The report is updated and published annually by the Environmental Working Group (EWG):

The EWG’s analysis of tests by the USDA found that nearly 70 percent of samples of 48 types of conventional produce were contaminated with residues of one or more pesticides. USDA researchers found a total of 178 different pesticides and pesticide breakdown products in the thousands of produce samples tested.

The EWG said that the most contaminated sample of strawberries had 20 different pesticides and that spinach had twice the residues by weight. For 2017, the Dirty Dozen are (with #1 being the most dirty):

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


In contrast, the EWG also publishes the list of the 15 cleanest fruits and vegetables, with 1 being the cleanest:

  • Sweet Corn
  • Avocados
  • Pineapples
  • Cabbage
  • Onions
  • Sweet Peas (frozen)
  • Papayas
  • Asparagus
  • Mangos
  • Eggplant
  • Honeydew Melon
  • Kiwi
  • Cantaloupe
  • Cauliflower
  • Grapefruit

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