Scientists warn that strawberries are the most toxic fruit

EWG's 2018 Shopper's Guide to Pesticides in Produce

Strawberries, apples, spinach: Guide highlights fruits, veggies with most pesticide residues

Many shoppers don't realize that pesticide residues are common on conventionally grown produce - even after it is carefully washed or peeled. Further, a study in the Journal of Food and Chemical Toxicology found that if half of Americans increased their consumption of fruits and vegetables by a single serving each day, 20,000 cancer cases could be prevented annually. Pesticides include an assortment of chemicals that kill unwanted insects, plants, molds and rodents.

"If you can not find or afford organic hot peppers, cook them, because pesticide levels typically diminish when food is cooked", the authors of the report noted.

A nonprofit health organization has listed the top fruits and vegetables contaminated by pesticides.

For the third year in a row, strawberries take the top spot as the fruit that has the most residual pesticides on them.

The report, based on testing by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), noted that one sample of strawberry had 22 pesticide residues.

A total of 230 different pesticides and pesticide breakdown products were found on the produce samples, according to USDA tests. This year the list includes, in descending order, strawberries, spinach, nectarines, apples, grapes, peaches, cherries, pears, tomatoes, celery, potatoes and sweet bell peppers.

Alliance for Food and Farming executive director Teresa Thorne told USA Today that that Dirty Dozen list may sway low-income consumers from buying produce, which could be "harming public health efforts to improve the diets of Americans".

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The findings from the studies raise important questions about the safety of pesticide mixtures found on produce, and suggest that people should focus on eating the fruits and vegetables with the fewest pesticide residues. And there's a list for that, too.

Multiple pesticide residues are extremely rare on Clean Fifteen vegetables.

Topping the Clean Fifteen list is avocados and sweet corn, with less than one percent of samples showing traces of detectable pesticides.

Avocados lead the list this year, followed by sweet corn, pineapples, cabbage, onions, frozen sweet peas, papayas, asparagus, mangoes, eggplant, honeydew melon, kiwi, cantaloupe, cauliflower and broccoli. The Environmental Protection Agency was mandated by the federal Food Quality Protection Act of 1996 to enhance the regulation of pesticides and reduce the rate children are exposed to pesticides.

"Consumers have more choices now than ever before when it comes to the fruits and vegetables they consume", Stenzel said. Only 5 percent of Clean Fifteen vegetable samples had two or more pesticides. But others, like organophosphate insecticides, are still used for agricultural purposes.

So what do you do with this information?

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