FoodThe "Dirty Dozen" of 2023 - the most pesticide-tainted fruits and vegetables

The "Dirty Dozen" of 2023 - the most pesticide-tainted fruits and vegetables

Which vegetables and fruits ended up on the disgraceful list?
Which vegetables and fruits ended up on the disgraceful list?
Images source: © Adobe Stock

3:12 PM EST, January 9, 2024

The EWG addresses the question of which fruits and vegetables are most contaminated. This American non-profit organization specializes in identifying the presence of toxic chemicals in food items. The EWG has published an annual list of the most contaminated products for nearly two decades. The compilation for 2023 included many familiar fruits and vegetables.

The "Dirty Dozen" of 2023: The Most Contaminated Fruits and Vegetables

The EWG experts examined nearly 50,000 samples from forty-six different vegetables and fruits. The assessment was based on determining which items frequently tested positive for pesticides. The results of these studies could come as a surprise for several proponents of healthy eating. Here's the list of the twelve most contaminated fruits and vegetables, known as the "dirty dozen":

  1. Strawberries
  2. Spinach
  3. Kale
  4. Peaches
  5. Pears
  6. Nectarines
  7. Apples
  8. Grapes
  9. Peppers and hot peppers
  10. Cherries
  11. American blueberries
  12. Green beans

It's worth noting that strawberries, spinach, and kale have consistently topped the list for many years. The 2023 list featured American blueberries and green beans for the first time. A toxicologist who participated in the study commented on the findings.

"Despite numerous scientific studies linking pesticide exposure to serious health problems, a potentially harmful mixture of chemicals continues to contaminate many conventionally grown fruits and vegetables that consumers eat,’" stated Dr. Alexis Temkin, as quoted by the portal.

The "Clean Fifteen" of 2023: The Least Chemically Contaminated Fruits and Vegetables

In contrast to the concerning news about the "dirty dozen," the EWG tried to provide some positive insights from their research. In addition to listing the most contaminated fruits and vegetables, the organization also highlighted fifteen of the cleanest products, which appear to be free from pesticides, or contain minimal and harmless amounts. They include:

  1. Avocado
  2. Sweet corn
  3. Pineapple
  4. Onion
  5. Papaya
  6. Sweet green peas
  7. Asparagus
  8. Honeydew melon
  9. Kiwi
  10. Cabbage
  11. Mushrooms
  12. Mango
  13. Sweet potatoes
  14. Watermelon
  15. Carrots
A list of the most pesticide-contaminated fruits and vegetables created by EWG.
A list of the most pesticide-contaminated fruits and vegetables created by EWG.© EWG |

According to the report, nearly 65% of fruit and vegetable samples from this "clean fifteen" list had no detectable pesticide residues. Both avocado and sweet corn were the cleanest products, with less than 2% of samples showing traces of any pesticides. Only slightly over 10% of samples contained residues of at least two pesticides. Importantly, none of the first six items in the "clean fifteen" list tested positive for the presence of more than three pesticides.

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