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The Environmental Working Group (EWG) released its 2021 “Dirty Dozen” and “Clean Fifteen” lists — a catalog of conventionally grown fruits and vegetables with the highest and lowest amounts of pesticide residue. Strawberries topped the “Dirty Dozen” list for the fifth year in row.

More than 90 percent of produce sampled, including strawberries, apples, cherries, spinach, nectarines, and leafy greens, tested positive for two or more pesticides.

This year’s study revealed that leafy greens are among the most contaminated produce. A single sample of conventional kale, collard greens, and mustard greens was found to contain 20 different pesticides.

The study also found a number of harmful fungicides in citrus fruits. The fungicide imazalil, for example, was detected on nearly 90 percent of EWG-sampled citrus. The fungicide disrupts the endocrine system and is recognized by the EPA as a likely carcinogen. Of the conventional citrus fruits tested by EWG, mandarins, followed by oranges and grapefruit, were found to have the highest levels of fungicides.

Eating plenty of fresh produce is an essential part of daily nutrition. “Whenever possible, shoppers should opt for organic produce,” says EWG toxicologist Thomas Galligan, PhD. “When organic produce is not available or affordable, shoppers can use EWG’s ‘Clean Fifteen’ list to find conventional fruits and vegetables that are relatively low in pesticides.”

Take control of what you put in your body with this year’s EWG list of the “Dirty Dozen” and the “Clean Fifteen”:

The Dirty Dozen:

  1. Strawberries
  2. Spinach
  3. Kale, collard and mustard greens
  4. Nectarines
  5. Apples
  6. Grapes
  7. Cherries
  8. Peaches
  9. Pears
  10. Bell and hot peppers
  11. Tomatoes
  12. Celery

The Clean Fifteen:

  1. Avocados
  2. Sweet corn
  3. Pineapples
  4. Onions
  5. Papaya
  6. Sweet peas
  7. Eggplants
  8. Asparagus
  9. Broccoli
  10. Cabbage
  11. Kiwi
  12. Cauliflower
  13. Mushrooms
  14. Honeydew melons
  15. Cantaloupes

For a full list of where various fruits and veggies rank, visit the EWG website.

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