Loading up on fresh produce at the grocery store? If you’re wondering which fruits and vegetables have the most and least pesticides on them, you may want to consult this year’s Dirty Dozen and Clean Fifteen list.
For the second year in a row, strawberries topped the Dirty Dozen list pulled together by the Environmental Working Group. Spinach, nectarines and apples followed in the 2017 rankings, when it comes to produce covered with the most pesticides.
Before 2016, apples were the worst offenders for five years.
Keep in mind, the Canadian Food Inspection Agency monitors and enforces residue limits on all produce sold in Canada.
“Each of these foods tested positive for a number of different pesticide residues and contained higher concentrations of pesticides than other produce. Pears and potatoes were new additions to the Dirty Dozen, displacing cherry tomatoes and cucumbers from last year’s list,” the EWG said in its report summary.
A single sample of strawberries came with 20 different pesticides. Spinach samples had, on average, twice as much pesticide residue by weight than another other crop too, the EWG warned.
Its shopping guide is meant to help consumers choose produce lower in pesticides when organic produce isn’t readily available.
On the other end of the spectrum is the EWG’s Clean Fifteen. Avocados and sweet corn were the options with the least amount of pesticide residues – only one per cent of samples showed any detectable pesticides.
More than 80 per cent of pineapples, papayas, asparagus, onions and cabbage had no pesticide residues either.
Here’s the 2017 Dirty Dozen list:
- Sweet bell peppers
Here’s the 2017 Clean Fifteen list:
- Sweet corn
- Frozen sweet peas
- Honeydew melon
The Alliance for Food and Farming is telling consumers to be cautious about the EWG’s annual list. It suggests the rankings are misleading, discredited by scientists and dissuades low-income consumers from buying fresh food altogether.
“If EWG truly cares about public health, it will stop referring to popular produce items that kids love as ‘dirty’ and move toward positive, science-based information that reassures consumers and promotes consumption,” Thorne said.
Adults should be aiming for eight to 10 servings of fruits and vegetables daily while kids should aim for between four to six servings, according to Canada’s Food Guide.
Only about four in 10 Canadians – or 11.2 million people – eat about five servings per day, according to Statistics Canada data.
Read the EWG’s full report here.