There’s a Surprising New Offender on the ‘Dirty Dozen’ List

The idea of eating organic foods doesn’t seem appealing to everyone, with some people citing costs, lack of access, or a hippie image as being reasons to avoid them. If you’re one of those people who detests the notion of eating organic, you may want to rethink your position.

For what, you ask? When it comes to produce, the difference between eating conventional and organic can affect your health. The Environmental Working Group just released this year’s dirty dozen list of fruits and vegetables that have the highest amounts of pesticide taint, and it doesn’t look good.

Once again, strawberries are number one for being covered with the most pesticide residue. They are followed by spinach, kale, nectarines, and apples, respectively. The EWG analyzed data on conventional produce from the U.S. Department of Agriculture and published their findings in the annual Shopping Guide.

The organization was surprised to find kale in the top three, as information for the plant has not been available from the USDA since 2009. This is kale’s first appearance in ten years, and in 2009, it was number 8.

The EWG reports that in the USDA’s testing of the vegetable, more than 90% of conventionally-grown kale was found to have at least two types of pesticides on it. From the report:

“In the latest tests, almost 60 percent of the kale samples tested positive for DCPA, or Dacthal, which the Environmental Protection Agency has long classified as a possible human carcinogen. The pesticide has been prohibited for use on crops in the European Union since 2009.”

That’s just for kale. In a press release, the EWG also cites that the American Academy of Pediatricians Council on Environmental Health states that pesticide exposure can increase the rates of leukemia, brain tumors, neurological defects, and other health issues for unborn and young children.

They recommended that pregnant women and children reduce their intake of pesticide-laden foods. The EWG learned that the USDA’s tests found more than 200 pesticides and pesticide byproducts on fruits and vegetables (non-organic).

The group also published a “Clean Fifteen” list which highlights produce with the lowest amounts of pesticide residue. Over 70% of those samples had zero residue. Among those included in that category are avocados, mushrooms, pineapples, onions, and broccoli.

It’s not easy to make the switch from conventional to organic, but some mix things up by buying certain items organic and others as conventional. It can help to save money!

Although the EWG compiles this list to help consumers decide which items are safer, they still encourage people to eat high amounts of fruits and vegetables regardless of their status on the list. The health benefits of these foods are way too important to skip eating altogether. Pesticides be damned!

If you’re curious to see where some of your favorite foods rank on both lists, watch the Environmental Working Group’s video below. And wink wink, you can always grow some of your own.

Do you have concerns about pesticides and your health? Do you care about these lists? Are there any foods that you always buy organic?