- The Environmental Working Group Shopper’s Guide to Pesticides in Produce’s annual "Dirty Dozen" list has once again ranked strawberries as No. 1 — the conventionally grown produce with the most pesticide residues.
- EWG’s analysis of tests by the USDA discovered that approximately 70% of samples of 48 types of conventional produce were contaminated with residues of at least one pesticide.
- Spinach came in second on the list, followed by nectarines, apples, peaches, celery, grapes, pears, cherries, tomatoes, sweet bell peppers and potatoes.
The Environmental Working Group has long argued that organics are safer and that consumers should purchase organic fruits and vegetables. The list has become popular among food bloggers and consumer groups, and a must-see guide to what consumers should buy.
The report noted spinach made a leap up the list because samples had an average of twice as much pesticide residue by weight than any other crop. Additionally, 75% of spinach samples had residues of a neurotoxic pesticide banned in Europe for use on food crops.
The more traction the list gets on social media, the more some consumers are going to shy away from the produce on the list. Several startups have come along in recent years offering technology that could limit the use of pesticides, and many believe that could change the way food is grown in the future.
Even though the list is widely shared and plays on scare tactics of unhealthy food, it may not have an impact on sales. Despite its perpetual first-place standing on the list, U.S. per capita strawberry consumption has been increasing, and is now at 4.85 pounds per year.
Recent studies also show pesticides aren't the problem they once were. The 25th annual U.S. Department of Agriculture Pesticide Data Program report showed 99% of American-grown fruits and vegetables contained pesticide residues below the Environmental Protection Agency's established levels, and researchers detected no residue on 15% of samples.