Exactly how safe is that produce in your kitchen?

The Environmental Working Group (EWG) recently released its annual “Dirty Dozen” report naming the fruits and vegetables contaminated with the highest number of pesticides — and the list is full of everyday, household favorites.

The EWG analyzed data from the United States Department of Agriculture. Overall, the USDA found 225 different pesticides on the common fruits and veggies Americans eat everyday. The tests were conducted before produce was washed or peeled — which shows that simple washing isn’t enough to eliminate pesticides from your produce.

As a reminder, researchers have long-warned us that consuming pesticides can lead to a number of health issues including cancer and low fertility.

Some fruits and vegetables that appear on the 2019 Dirty Dozen list are regulars (hello again, strawberries), but some are newcomers to the pesticide-laden list of shame. This year, kale seems to be the shocker, as it had been years since the leafy green made the list.

According to the study, more than “92 percent of kale samples had two or more pesticide residues detected,” and a single sample of kale could have as many as 18 different kinds of pesticides present.

So what other produce should you watch out for? Without further ado, here is:

The 2019 “Dirty Dozen”

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

Notice that you would eat the whole item or the skin of most of these fruits and vegetables, meaning, if you don’t take extra precautions, you will be eating pesticides.

Conversely, the EWG also releases a “Clean Fifteen” list, which includes the 15 produce found to have the fewest pesticides. This years list includes:


  1. Avocados
  2. Sweet corn
  3. Pineapple
  4. Cabbage
  5. Onions
  6. Sweet pears (frozen)
  7. Papayas
  8. Asparagus
  9. Mangoes
  10. Eggplant
  11. Honeydew melons
  12. Kiwis
  13. Cantaloupes
  14. Cauliflower
  15. Broccoli

Read more about the “Clean 15” and the “Dirty Dozen” here.

Also see, Scientists approve eating avocado every day.

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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.