‘Dirty Dozen’ and ‘Clean Fifteen’ lists for 2022: Conventional products with the most and least pesticides

What fruits and vegetables should you avoid if you do not want an extra serving of pesticides for your salad?

The Environmental Working Group (EWG) has published its annual Shopper’s Guide to Pesticides in Produce, which includes its Dirty Dozen and Clean Fifteen lists of the most organic and least pesticide non-organic products.

“Everyone should eat plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables, no matter how they are grown,” EWG toxicologist Alexis Temkin, Ph.D., said in a press release announcing the new report. “But shoppers have a right to know what potentially toxic substances are found on these foods so they can make the best choices for their families given budgetary and other concerns.”

As was the case last year, strawberries, spinach and leafy vegetables, kale, collard and mustard greens were the dirtiest products. Avocados, sweet corn and pineapple again topped the clean list.

The full lists for 2022 are as follows, according to the EWG:

Dirty Dozen

  1. Strawberry
  2. Spinach
  3. Kale, collard and mustard green
  4. Nectarines
  5. Apples
  6. Grapes
  7. Bell and peppers
  8. Cherry
  9. Peaches
  10. Pear
  11. Celery
  12. Tomatoes

Pure fifteen

  1. Avocados
  2. Sweet corn
  3. Pineapple
  4. Onion
  5. Papaya
  6. Sweet peas (frozen)
  7. Asparagus
  8. Honeydew melon
  9. Kiwi
  10. Cabbage
  11. Mushrooms
  12. Melon
  13. Mangoes
  14. Watermelon
  15. Sweet potatoes

The lists are based on tests from the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the Food and Drug Administration, the EWG explained in its press release. Agencies wash, scrub and peel the products before testing, so rinsing the products is not enough to avoid pesticides. The best way to stay safe is to eat organic products, as pesticide residues were found on more than 70 percent of the conventional products tested.

“The EWG recommends that consumers, whenever possible, purchase organic versions of Dirty Dozen products,” said EWG science analyst Sydney Swanson in the press release. “Most pesticides cannot be legally used for organically grown products.”

But nearly 70 percent of Clean Fifteen products had no pesticide residues, so if you can not find or afford organic options, it’s best to choose something from this list.

While most of the items tested below pesticide levels, according to the government, are safe, experts warn that this does not necessarily mean it is a good idea to ingest them. Research from Harvard University has found that eating fruits and vegetables with high levels of pesticides can outweigh their health benefits against problems including heart disease and death.

Many of the dirty dozen tested positive for more than one pesticide. A sample of kale, collard and mustard green had as many as 21 pesticides, the EWG said. And more than 90 percent of strawberry, apple, cherry, spinach, nectarine and grape samples tested positive for two or more pesticides.

The pesticide most commonly found on kale, collard and mustard green was DCPA, which is banned in the EU and considered a possible carcinogen for humans by the US Environmental Protection Agency.

The lists have come under fire from farmers and their representatives, who say they raise concerns about minimal exposure to pesticides and deter people from eating fruit and vegetables.

“Residues on conventionally grown crops are already so small, if at all present,” Alliance for Food and Farming CEO Teresa Thorne told USA Today. “The other thing is that this list has been shown again through peer-reviewed research to negatively impact consumers. When low-income consumers were exposed to this list and some of the messages on the Dirty Dozen list, they said they were less likely to buy organic or conventional products. “

The Alliance for Food and Agriculture is a non-profit group representing both conventional and organic farmers. However, the EWG replied that the alliance funded the study in question and nevertheless distorted its findings.

“The survey actually shows that just over half of the people surveyed said the ‘Dirty Dozen’ list made them more likely to buy fruits and vegetables,” Temkin told CNN. “Only about 1 in 6 said our report would make them less likely to buy products.”

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