The Environmental Working Group (EWG) released 2012 updates to the Dirty Dozen—a list of the 12 most pesticide-contaminated fruits and vegetables—adding cucumbers to the list, in addition to a new “plus” category to indicate produce that didn’t meet the Dirty Dozen criteria, but are still contaminated with organophosphate insecticides, which are toxic to the nervous system. Most of the list is the same as in years past, but this year the EWG says to watch out for cucumbers, leafy greens like kale and collard greens, and green beans.
Here’s the updated Dirty Dozen:
- Sweet bell peppers
- Imported nectarines
- Domestic blueberries
And the “Dirty Dozen Plus” list:
- Collard greens
- Green beans
The bad news is that some of the statistics they found were really, really scary. For the year’s report, the EWG analyzed annual pesticide residue tests conducted by the USDA and FDA between 2000 and 2010; the samples had all been washed or peeled prior to testing (to accurately reflect pesticide contamination in fruits and vegetables as they’re normally eaten). But even after being washed, peeled and prepped, the amount of pesticide in some produce is shocking:
- Approximately 98% of conventionally-grown apples have detectable levels of pesticides.
- Domestic blueberries tested positive for 42 different pesticide residues.
- 78 different pesticides were found on lettuce samples.
- Every single nectarine the USDA tested had measurable pesticide residues.
- Grapes have more types of pesticides than any other fruit, with 64 different chemicals found in the category altogether.
- 13 different pesticides were measured on a single sample celery and of strawberries.
Photo: via BuzzFarmers on Flickr