The Environmental Working Group has come out with its “Dirty Dozen” list of fruits and vegetables, with strawberries topping the list again.

The group has compiled its list for several years to highlight produce with pesticide residues. All of the fresh fruits and vegetables on the list have residues below the legal limits but are culled from a list of thousands of tests by the USDA.

This year the Environmental Working Group, EWG, says a single strawberry tested positive for 22 different pesticides. The EWG suggests that consumers buy organic fruits and vegetables to avoid such situations. Some pesticides are approved for use on organic crops.

“Strawberries aren’t the only problematic produce item. 90 percent of blueberry samples were contaminated with toxic pesticide residues, including pesticides linked to cancer and nervous system harm,” according to the EWG.

“Among the 54 pesticides found on blueberries were several bee-killing neonic pesticides. Not only have these pesticides been linked to the massive decline in bee populations worldwide, they’ve also been linked to neurological damage in children.”

The organization says 75 percent of non-organic fruits and vegetables sold in the U.S. are “riddled” with potentially toxic agricultural chemicals. Some of the pesticides detected have been banned in the U.S. or Europe because of concerns about how they harm people.

“Despite the abundance of science linking exposure to pesticides with serious health issues, a potentially toxic cocktail of concerning chemicals continues to taint many of the non-organic fruits and vegetables are eaten by consumers,” said Alexis Temkin, EWG toxicologist.

EWG’s analysis of the latest fruit and vegetable is from testing data from the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. The 2023 edition includes data from 46,569 samples of 46 fruits and vegetables, covering 251 different pesticides.

“Everyone – adults and kids – should eat more fruits and vegetables, whether organic or not,“ Temkin said. “A produce-rich diet provides many health benefits.

“But in the ongoing absence of meaningful federal oversight, consumers concerned about pesticide exposure can use EWG’s Shopper’s Guide to Pesticides in Produce to navigate the produce aisle in ways that work best for them and their families.”

The fruits and vegetables on EWG’s Dirty Dozen for this year are:

1. Strawberries
2. Spinach
3. Kale, collard, and mustard greens
4. Peaches
5. Pears
6. Nectarines
7. Apples
8. Grapes
9. Bell and hot Peppers
10. Cherries
11. Blueberries
12. Green Beans

The group also compiles a list of what it considers to be the cleanest produce in terms of pesticide residues. This year the Clean 15 are:

1. Avocados
2. Sweet corn*
3. Pineapple
4. Onions
5. Papaya*
6. Sweet peas (frozen)
7. Asparagus
8. Honeydew melon
9. Kiwi
10. Cabbage
11. Mushrooms
12. Mangoes
13. Sweet Potatoes
14. Watermelon
15. Carrots

* Some sweet corn, papaya, and summer squash sold in the United States is produced from genetically modified seeds. The EWG recommends that consumers buy organic varieties of these crops if they want to avoid genetically modified produce.

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