Nearly 70 Percent of Produce Sold in U.S. Contains Pesticide Residue
When people decide to eat healthy, fruits and vegetables are usually at the top of their grocery lists. But along with vitamins and minerals, a large percentage of produce also contains residues of pesticide according to new data compiled by the Environmental Working Group.
EWG’s 2019 Shopper’s Guide to Pesticides in Produce examined test data from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), and found that nearly 70 percent of produce sold in the U.S. tested positive for pesticide residue. The USDA data found an alarming 225 different pesticides, including probable carcinogens like Dacthal, on popular fruits and vegetables.
The EWG also compiled its “Dirty Dozen for 2019” list of the fruits and vegetables containing the most pesticide residue:
It’s important to note that all produce was washed and peeled prior to testing, indicating that washing is not enough to remove all traces of the pesticides.
The USDA found that more than 90 percent of the strawberries, apples, cherries, spinach, and nectarines and kale sampled tested positive for residues of two or more pesticides. And while kale came in third overall, the USDA found that a single sample could contain up to 18 different residues. This is the first time in almost a decade that the USDA has tested kale, which has risen in popularity in recent years.
The EWG also put together a list of fruits and vegetables that had low-to-no detected pesticide residues. Avocados, sweet corn, pineapples, frozen sweet peas, and onions topped the list with more than 70 percent of the clean fruit and vegetable samples containing no residual pesticides.
The EWG Shopper’s Guide was made to help consumers reduce their pesticide exposure as much as possible. The EWG recommends eating organic produce, which the group notes can substantially reduce measurable synthetic pesticide levels.