Strawberries again top 2018’s ‘Dirty Dozen’ fruits and veggies

Once again, strawberries top the list of the 12 “dirtiest” fruits and vegetables, according to the Environmental Working Group. The group ranks pesticide contamination in 47 popular fruits and vegetables.

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For the group’s purposes, pesticides include a wide array of chemicals that kill unwanted insects, plants, molds and rodents.

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Spinach is the second dirtiest item on the list. On average, spinach samples had 1.8 times as much pesticide residue by weight as any other crop.

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Nectarines, apples, grapes and peaches were also on the “oh, no, not you, too!” list.

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Cherries, pears, tomatoes, celery, potatoes and sweet bell peppers also all tested positive for pesticide residues and contained higher concentrations of pesticides than other produce.

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This year, EWP made its Dirty Dozen list a “baker’s dozen” to include a 13th suspect: Hot peppers.


Anyone who frequently eats hot peppers should buy organic ones, the group says. Another option is to cook the peppers, because pesticide levels generally fall when food is cooked.


Children are more susceptible to suffering ill effects from pesticides, the report says. Pesticides are linked to birth defects, asthma and cancer. Even exposure to them during pregnancy is thought to be harmful.

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Rinsing produce under tap water for at least 30 seconds is an effective way to eliminate pesticide residues, according to the Connecticut Agricultural Experiment Station, a government-run scientific group.

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Don’t despair, veggie lovers! The Environmental Working Group also creates a list of produce containing the least pesticides. Avocados lead the list of cleanest fruits and veggies.

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That list also includes favorites such as sweet corn, pineapples, cabbage, onions, frozen sweet peas, papayas, asparagus, mangoes, eggplant, honeydew melon, kiwi, cantaloupe, cauliflower and broccoli.

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