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EWG's Dirty Dozen 2021

EWG's Dirty Dozen 2021

The EWG dirtiest produce 2021 list is similar to 2020. Strawberries are still on top, followed by 'health superfoods', spinach & kale as the most pesticide laden produce

If you love a good green smoothie in the morning, especially if it's laced with strawberry, apple and pears, it's time to go organic. Kale joined the Top 12 Dirtiest list in 2019 and has persisted, pretty much like the pesticides on its leaves. Multiple samples of kale had 18 different pesticide residues. On average, kale and spinach samples had 1.1 to 1.8 times as much pesticide residue by weight than any other crop tested.

More than 90 percent of kale, strawberry, apple, cherry, nectarine and spinach samples had two or more pesticide residues detected, and a single sample could contain up to 18 different residues.

This year the EWG also tested raisins to see how dried fruit stacked up against fresh. They turned out to be way dirtier than any of the fresh produce. And in almost every sample of non-organic raisins (99%), two or more pesticide residues were present.

Each year we reproduce the EWG's Dirty Dozen™ and Clean Fifteen™ list of pesticides in produce. EWG rank 48 different foods from the highest number of pesticides to the lowest.  While this is a USA list, we have pieces of info in Australia, but no one testing in the same way, so it's the most useful guide we have right now and can reasonably assist you to make better produce decisions in Australia.

Don't get caught up in the different country cropping chemicals etc arguments. Just use this as a guide to what it is safest to buy organic and what doesn't matter so much and save your money. You will certainly be no worse off for heeding the advice from EWG's worst fruit and vegetables list. 

Key findings on pesticides from EWG:

Each of the Dirty Dozen™ tested positive for a number of different pesticide residues and contained higher concentrations of pesticides than other produce.  More than 90 percent of samples of strawberries, apples, cherries, spinach, nectarines, and kale tested positive for residues of two or more pesticides.

Multiple samples of kale showed 18 different pesticides. Kale and spinach samples had, on average, 1.1 to 1.8 times as much pesticide residue by weight than any other crop.

EWG's 2020 Dirty Dozen™

1. Strawberries 4. Nectarines 7. Cherries 10. Peppers
2. Spinach 5. Apples 8. Peaches     11. Celery 
3. Kale 6. Grapes 9. Pears 12. Tomatoes  

Not all fruit and vegetables are pesticide laden

If you are concerned about pesticides in food - and you should be - these are the foods that you should buy organic. 

Be aware that all testing of produce for EWG is undertaken after it is washed in the normal way that any household would wash their produce, so washing does not get all pesticides off.

And if you want to save money, the cleanest fruit and vegetables - the Clean Fifteen™ are the ones that are more likely to have less pesticide residues and  to buy non organic. 

A note about Glyphosate (Roundup)

Glyphosate, or Roundup, the most heavily used pesticide in the U.S.A. and many parts of the world including Australia, where it is used as a pre-harvest drying agent. High levels can be found in several grains and beans. According to Australia's Grains, Research and Development Corporation fact sheet, the practice is allowed on Wheat, Canola, Chickpeas, Lentils, Faba beans and Field Peas. 

Images: EWG

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