GREEN

EWG's Dirty Dozen Report Lists The Most Pesticide-Heavy Fruits And Veggies Of 2014

May 01, 2014 | Updated May 02, 2014
Patrizia Savarese via Getty Images

An apple a day usually keeps the doctor away -- unless it's ridden with pesticides.

For the 10th year in a row, nonprofit advocacy agency the Environmental Working Group (EWG) has released its list of the most pesticide-contaminated produce, and once again apples top the Dirty Dozen.

The Dirty Dozen, part of the EWG's yearly Shopper's Guide to Pesticides in Produce, is compiled from U.S. Department of Agriculture data on 48 fruits and veggies with pesticide residue data. About 65 percent of the produce samples test positive.

That's bad news for a few reasons: Pesticides have been linked to developmental problems in children, and may act as carcinogens or throw off the endocrine system, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

"For decades, various toxic pesticides were claimed to be 'safe' -- until they weren't, and either banned or phased out because they posed risks to people," Sonya Lunder, EWG's senior analyst and author of the Shopper's Guide report said in a statement. "While regulators and scientists debate these and other controversies about pesticide safety, EWG will continue drawing attention to the fruits and vegetables with the highest pesticide loads."

For the third year, the EWG has also included two runners up with traces of some of the more dangerous pesticides that don't quite fit into the Dirty Dozen. This year, that prestigious honor goes to leafy greens (which include kale and collards, according to the EWG) and hot peppers, which ranked 12th on last year's list.

But the Dirty Dozen, listed below, doesn't give us permissions to skip the produce with high loads. Rather, consider purchasing organic varieties of these fruits and veggies, and be sure to pick plenty of produce from the Clean 15.

  • 12 Snap Peas (Imported)
  • A single snap pea sample carried 13 different pesticides.
  • The average potato sample was found to carry more pesticides by weight than any of the other foods tested.
  • 10 Cherry Tomatoes
  • Like snap peas, a single sample of cherry tomatoes also tested positive for 13 different pesticides.
  • 9 Cucumber
  • Not much has changed for the cucumber, which also ranked ninth on last year's Dirty Dozen list.
  • 8 Nectarines (imported)
  • Every sample of imported nectarines analyzed by the EWG tested positive for at least one pesticide.
  • 7 Sweet Bell Peppers
  • Bell peppers land at No. 7 again this year.
  • 6 Spinach
  • The leafy green is once again sixth on the list.
  • 5 Peaches
  • Peaches ranked fifth on the 2014 Dirty Dozen.
  • A single celery sample tested positive for 13 different pesticides.
  • 3 Grapes
  • A single grape sample contained 15 pesticides.
  • 2 Strawberries
  • A single strawberry sample tested positive for 13 different pesticides.
  • Apples once again top the Dirty Dozen list. Almost every sample -- 99 percent! -- tested positive for at least one pesticide residue.

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