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New Study Reveals Which Fruits And Vegetables Have The Most Pesticides

The Environmental Working Group's Dirty Dozen, which lists the fruits and vegetables with the most pesticide residue, has released its annual ranking of produce with the highest traces of pesticides. Sadly, strawberries are ranked first, followed by spinach, kale, nectarines, and apples.

The EWG, founded in 1993 by Ken Cook and Richard Wiles, is a non-profit organization that specializes in research and advocacy in the areas of agricultural subsidies, toxic chemicals, drinking water pollutants, and corporate accountability. The group has found that more than 90 percent of strawberries, apples, cherries, spinach, nectarines, and kale tested positive for residues of two or more pesticides, while kale showed the presence of 18 pesticides.

"Nearly 70 percent of the produce sold in the U.S. comes with pesticide residues," the EWG said in its 2019 Shopper’s Guide to Pesticides in Produce, which analyzes U.S. Department of Agriculture test data.

The organization recommends eating organic produce. Last year, 7 percent of fruits and 11 percent of vegetables sold in the US were considered organic, while 15 percent of frozen fruits and 5 percent of vegetables sold were organic. The EWG says the guide hopes to help consumers reduce their "pesticide exposures as much as possible." The group has indicated that several studies reveal a connection between pesticides and cancer, fertility and neurological problems.

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It’s not all bad news though. The EWG also published its Clean Fifteen ranking, which reveals the produce with the least pesticide residue. The top five are avocados, sweet corn, pineapples, frozen sweet peas, and onions. Less than 1 percent of avocados and sweet corn samples had traces of pesticides and more than 70 percent of had none.

"The federal government’s role in protecting our health, farm workers and the environment from harmful pesticides is in urgent need of reform," the EWG said.

In December, the US Department of Agriculture called the nation's food supply "among the safest in the world," adding that over “99 percent of the samples tested had pesticide residues well below benchmark levels established by the Environmental Protection Agency."

Teresa Thorne. a spokesperson for the Alliance for Food and Farming, a Watsonville, California-based organization representing organic and conventional produce farmers, however, disagrees with the EWG, saying that the amount of pesticide residue on traditionally grown and organic produce is extremely low.

"To call more affordable and accessible forms of produce 'dirty' doesn't make any sense," she said, adding that farmers "are doing everything they can to make sure they’re providing safe fruits and vegetables for their families and consumers alike."

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, though, only one in 10 American adults eat enough fruit or vegetables. The EWG stands by its claims saying its Shopper's Guide relies on analysis of more than 40,900 samples taken by the federal government in the last two years.

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