List of dirtiest, cleanest fruits, vegetables just might surprise you

Most-contaminated produce is strawberries

We go to the store, mindlessly stock up on fresh produce and often never consider where it has been or what it has been exposed to before it makes its way to us.

A U.S. Department of Agriculture test of fruits and vegetables most contaminated by pesticides found 225 different pesticides and pesticide breakdown products on produce Americans eat every day.

In case you’re wondering, all of the produce was washed and peeled, just as someone would do when preparing the food at home, proving, the Environmental Working Group says, that simple washing does not necessarily remove all pesticides.

Here are EWG's "Dirty Dozen" of 2019:

  • Strawberries
  • Spinach
  • Kale
  • Nectarines
  • Apples
  • Grapes
  • Peaches
  • Cherries
  • Pears
  • Tomatoes
  • Celery
  • Potatoes
  • The USDA went on to report that more than 92 percent of kale had two or more pesticide residues detected, with a single sample sometimes containing up to 18 different residues.

    One of the pesticides found on 60 percent of kale was Dacthal, or DCPA, which was classified in 1995 by the Environmental Protection Agency as a possible human carcinogen.

    While this is scary, there is relatively good news: There are fruits and vegetables the USDA found to have few, if any, pesticides. EWG listed those in its “Clean Fifteen” for 2019:

  • Avocados
  • Sweet corn
  • Pineapples
  • Frozen sweet peas
  • Onions
  • Papayas
  • Eggplants
  • Asparagus
  • Kiwis
  • Cabbages
  • Cauliflower
  • Cantaloupes
  • Broccoli
  • Mushrooms
  • Honeydew melons
  • The findings raise questions about the safety of pesticides and, according to EWG, suggest people should focus on eating produce with the fewest pesticide residues.

    How do you do that? Try eating organic.

    “We were surprised kale had so many pesticides on it, but the test results were unequivocal,” EWG toxicologist Alexis Temkin said. “Fruits and vegetables are an important part of everyone’s diet, and when it comes to some conventionally grown produce items, such as kale, choosing organic may be a better option.”


    • There is an association between consuming foods high in pesticides and fertility problems.
    • An organic diet can reduce levels of a neurotoxic pesticide that harms the brain of a fetus.
    • After six days of eating organic food, consumers had about a 60 percent reduction of pesticide levels in their urine.
    • Consumers with the highest frequency of organic food consumption had 25 percent fewer cancers than those who did not eat organic.

    Do you eat organic? Does this report give you pause about purchasing produce on your next grocery store visit? We want to know your thoughts in the comment section below.