Blueberries and green beans have the unsavory distinction this year of being added to the “Dirty Dozen,” a ranking of conventionally grown, nonorganic produce items with the most pesticide residue. The list is compiled annually by the Environmental Working Group (EWG), a nonprofit health organization. Celery and tomatoes, which appeared among the Dirty Dozen last year, have now dropped off the list.
“Everyone — adults and kids — should eat more fruits and vegetables, whether organic or not,” said Alexis Temkin, PhD, a toxicologist at EWG, in a press release.
“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,” Dr. Temkin said.
The nonprofit also publishes the “Clean 15,” a list of conventional produce with the least amount of pesticides.
EPA regulations limit the kind and amount of pesticides permitted for conventional farming, but the chemicals can still pose health hazards, and these substances — including some that have been banned — continue to be used to treat our nation’s nonorganic produce.
The EWG’s results are based on latest testing data from over 45,000 samples of 46 fruits and vegetables provided by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
The new 2023 report found that nearly three-quarters of nonorganic fresh produce sold in the United States contains residues of potentially harmful pesticides. Some of the testing showed traces of pesticides long since banned by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).
“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 nonorganic fruits and vegetables eaten by consumers,” said Temkin.