by Laura Steiger, Outreach Team
Every year, the Environmental Working Group (EWG) reports the pesticide residue levels found on conventionally grown produce and publishes the results in the handy Shoppers Guide to Pesticides in Produce—more commonly known as the Dirty 12 and Clean 15 lists.
The Dirty 12 are the produce items that contain the highest levels of post-harvest pesticide residue; conversely, the Clean 15 contain the lowest levels.
The same 12 items from 2017 are making a repeat appearance on the 2018 list. The only difference is a shuffling of the order. Whenever possible, purchase these 12 produce items from organic sources.
Studies found that many of these residual pesticides cannot be completely removed, even after produce is carefully washed or peeled.
residual pesticides cannot be completely removed
EWG reported the following key findings from its 2018 analysis:
- More than 98 percent of samples of strawberries, spinach, peaches, nectarines, cherries, and apples tested positive for residue of at least one pesticide.
- A single sample of strawberries showed 20 different pesticides.
- Spinach samples had, on average, 1.8 times as much pesticide residue by weight than any other crop.
In addition to the Dirty 12, EWG also highlighted issues associated with hot peppers, which were found to be contaminated with insecticides toxic to the human nervous system. If you like it hot, consider buying organic.
hot peppers found to be contaminated with insecticides toxic to the human nervous system
The Co-op deli has made a commitment to never use any produce item on the Dirty 12 list in any of our housemade deli food unless it is certified organic. Thanks, deli cooks, for keeping it organic and healthy in the Co-op kitchens!
Learn more about the methodology and results of the analysis on the EWG website and pick up a Dirty 12/Clean 15 wallet-sized card in our stores.