The group found that almost 70 percent of samples of 48 types of conventionally grown produce were contaminated with pesticide residue. This is down 6.6 percentage points from past year.
The EWG Shopper's Guide to Pesticides in Produce, ranks pesticide contamination of popular fruits and vegetables based on more than 36,000 samples of produce tested by the US Department of Agriculture and the Food and Drug Administration.
For those who want to steer clear of pesticides, you're best sticking to Mexican cuisine: sweet corn and avocados were awarded the top spots of the EWG's "Clean Fifteen" list. For the healthiest practice, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends you wash your fruits and vegetables (unless they're labeled "prewashed"), keep them cold, and separate them from items like raw meat, poultry, and seafood.
The Alliance for Food and Farming, a non-profit organization which represents organic and conventional farmers of fruits and vegetables, says consumers need not worry.
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"A crop like strawberries will always have lots of pesticide residues because they are vulnerable to pests, they grow directly in the soil, have a high water content and lack a protective outer peel", Lunder said. The most contaminated of the strawberries had 20 different pesticide types.
The vegetables and fruits that are the most contaminated with pesticides are strawberries, apples, pears, grapes, tomatoes, potatoes, and celery.
And in especially gloomy news for a spicy food lover like me, the list has been expanded again this year to highlight hot peppers, especially jalapeno, Serrano, and Anaheim peppers.
The pesticides responsible for the residues included three fungicides and one insecticide called permethrin, which has been linked to tremors and seizures in the nervous systems of animals and insects.
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Produce that had relatively fewer pesticides and lower total concentrations of pesticide residues was placed on the group's "Clean Fifteen" list.
Produce with the lowest pesticide residue, in order were: sweet corn, avocados, pineapples, cabbage, onion, frozen sweet peas, papayas, asparagus, mangoes, eggplant, honeydew melon, kiwis, cantaloupe, cauliflower, and grapefruit.
But before you start throwing out any fruits or veggies that aren't on the Clean Fifteen, remember that this list does not mean you are going to keel over and die just because you grabbed the cheaper, non-organic strawberries the last time you were at the store.
Only 1 percent of the sweet corn and avocado samples showed any detectable pesticides.
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