Nearly 70 percent of sampled produce was found to have significant pesticide residue, according to a new report by one government agency. The biggest offender?


The Environmental Working Group released its 2017 list of the “dirtiest” and “cleanest” items in the produce isle. Strawberries, spinach and nectarines took the top spots of shame, while sweet corn, avocados and pineapples were rated the “cleanest.”

At least 178 different pesticides were found on the produce, even after they were washed, and in some instances, peeled.

Pesticides have been known to cause a number of health issues, including short-term problems like headaches and digestive troubles to chronic conditions like cancer and endocrine disruption.

“Eating plenty of fruits and vegetables is essential no matter how they’re grown, but for the items with the heaviest pesticide loads, we urge shoppers to buy organic,” said Sonya Lunder, an EWG senior analyst.

It’s particularly important to reduce young children’s exposures to pesticides, says Lunder.

“Even low levels of pesticide exposure can be harmful to infants, babies and young children, so when possible, parents and caregivers should take steps to lower children’s exposures to pesticides while still feeding them diets rich in healthy fruits and vegetables,” said Dr. Philip Landrigan of the Mt. Sinai School of Medicine.

Landrigan, Dean of Global Health and Director of the Children’s Environmental Health Center at Mt. Sinai, lead the landmark 1993 study Pesticides in the Diets of Infants and Children, which led to the enactment of the 1996 Food Quality Protections Act that set the stands for pesticides on foods we follow today.

As the dirtiest piece of produce on the list, strawberries tested positive for more than 20 different pesticides. Other offenders on this year’s Dirty Dozen list included apples, peaches, cherries, celery, tomatoes, sweet bell peppers, grapes, pears and potatoes.

Pears and potatoes were new additions to the list this year, displacing cherry tomatoes and cucumbers from last year’s list.

EWG’s “Dirty Dozen” list for 2017:

  1. Strawberries
  2. Spinach
  3. Nectarines
  4. Apples
  5. Peaches
  6. Celery
  7. Grapes
  8. Pears
  9. Cherries
  10. Tomatoes
  11. Sweet bell peppers
  12. Potatoes

“Clean Fifteen” list for 2017:

  1. Sweet corn
  2. Avocados
  3. Pineapples
  4. Cabbage
  5. Onions
  6. Frozen sweet peas
  7. Papayas
  8. Asparagus
  9. Mangoes
  10. Eggplant
  11. Honeydew melon
  12. Kiwis
  13. Cantaloupe
  14. Cauliflower
  15. Grapefruit




Meghan is a full-time writer exploring the fun facts behind food. She lives a healthy lifestyle but lives for breakfast, dessert and anything with marinara. She’s thrown away just as many meals as she’s proud of.