Healthier Veg

The Environmental Working Group (EWG) has released its annual list of vegetables and fruits with the most and least pesticide residue. The list is based on pesticide residue testing data from the USDA and FDA. These federal agencies produce the data, but don't collate it for the consumer, so the EWG provides this service for us.

Organic produce can be expensive, so it's helpful to know which items are more likely to have high levels of pesticides.  That way, we can pick and choose which ones, if any, we prefer to buy organic.  In many cases, produce sold at farm stands, grown on small farms, is grown using organic principles and little or no pesticides even if not certified as organic.  It's worth asking.

As in the past, strawberries and apples are at the top of the list of high pesticide residue. If concerned about pesticides in your food, simply buy organic for those items, even if you don't buy everything organic. The EWG refers to the top 12 items as "the dirty dozen" and recommends purchasing those organic if possible.  For the last few years, they've also added two more items to watch out for: leafy greens such as kale and collards and hot peppers. While these don't meet their usual criteria for the dirty dozen, they do show pesticides that are highly toxic to humans.  They recommend that if you eat a lot of these items, to purchase organic.