Nearly 70% of non-organic produce sold in the United States contains pesticide residue, according to the Environmental Working Group (EWG). Every year, the EWG ranks pesticide residue levels of fruits and vegetables based on samples taken by the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the Food and Drug Administration, publishing the results in the Shopper’s Guide to Pesticides in Produce.
Included in the report is a list of the most pesticide-tainted produce, which is known as the “Dirty Dozen.” For 2021, the following were on this list:
Kale, collard and mustard greens
Bell and hot peppers
In addition to the Dirty Dozen, the EWG publishes the “Clean Fifteen,” highlighting the “cleanest” produce. For 2021, avocados and sweet corn topped the list.
What Can You Do?
Most Americans aren’t eating enough fruits and vegetables daily. Don’t let the Dirty Dozen scare you away from eating fruits and veggies—all properly handled fresh produce, whether organic or not, is believed to be safe to eat.
To remove any pesticide residue, simply wash your fresh produce under running tap water for 30 seconds. If you’re still uneasy about pesticides, buy the frozen or canned versions of your favorite produce as an alternative option. Frozen fruits and vegetables are just as nutritious for you, so find what works best for your household.
If you have any questions or concerns, talk to your doctor.