Each year, the Environmental Working Group (EWG) publishes its Shopper’s Guide to Pesticides in Produce™, highlighting the Dirty Dozen and Clean Fifteen to look out for when buying fruits and vegetables in the U.S.
As in previous years, the overall picture remains problematic: Too many pesticides are still found at very high levels on so much of the produce consumed daily by millions of people in the U.S.
The good news is that choosing organic can reduce the amounts of residues we are exposed to.
Pesticides in produce
Nearly 75% of non-organic fresh produce sold in the U.S. contains residues of potentially harmful pesticides, according to EWG’s 2023 Shopper’s Guide to Pesticides in Produce™. The Shopper’s Guide represents EWG’s analysis of the latest fruit and vegetable testing data from the Department of Food and Drug Administration. The 2023 guide includes data from 46,569 samples of 46 fruits and vegetables and sees blueberries and green beans join the list of the Dirty Dozen™.
What’s more, more than 90% of samples of strawberries, apples, cherries, spinach, nectarines and grapes tested positive for residues of two or more pesticides.
The Dirty Dozen™
Of the 46 items included in the analysis, these 12 fruits and vegetables were the most contaminated with pesticides:
- Kale, collard and mustard greens
- Bell and hot peppers
- Green beans
In addition to the threats posed to human health, pesticide residues from agricultural intensification are also causing increasing soil contamination. Overall, unsustainable agriculture is the biggest driver of biodiversity loss, contributes to global warming, and threatens rural livelihoods as well as food and nutrition security.
We need to change the way we grow food to ensure we can nourish generations to come.
Farming for the future
Farming according to the principles of organic agriculture can be a pathway to growing food in harmony with nature, sustaining soil health, preserving biodiversity, as well as providing healthy and nutritious food for all. Support our work towards more sustainable production and consumption by becoming a member of IFOAM – Organics International.