Pesticide Load in Food

Why Should You Care About Pesticides?
There is growing consensus in the scientific community that small doses of pesticides and other chemicals can adversely affect people, especially during vulnerable periods of fetal development and childhood when exposures can have long lasting effects. Because the toxic effects of pesticides are worrisome, not well understood, or in some cases completely unstudied, shoppers are wise to minimize exposure to pesticides whenever possible.

Will Washing and Peeling Help?
Nearly all of the data used to create these lists already considers how people typically wash and prepare produce (for example, apples are washed before testing, bananas are peeled). While washing and rinsing fresh produce may reduce levels of some pesticides, it does not eliminate them. Peeling also reduces exposures, but valuable nutrients often go down the drain with the peel. The best option is to eat a varied diet, wash all produce, and choose organic when possible to reduce exposure to potentially harmful chemicals.

How This Guide Was Developed
The produce ranking was developed by analysts at the not-for-profit Environmental Working Group (EWG) based on the results of nearly 43,000 tests for pesticides on produce collected by the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

2013 RANKING from Worst to Best

(Worst)1. Apples
2. Strawberries
3. Grapes
4. Celery
5. Peaches
6. Spinach
7. Sweet bell peppers
8. Nectarines – imported
9. Cucumbers
10. Potatoes
11. Cherry tomatoes
12. Hot peppers
13. Blueberries – domestic
14. Lettuce
15. Snap peas – imported
16. Kale / collard greens
17. Cherries
18. Nectarines – domestic
19. Pears
20. Plums
21. Raspberries
22. Blueberries – imported
23. Carrots
24. Green beans
25. Tangerines 26. Summer squash
27. Broccoli
28. Winter squash
29. Green onions
30. Snap peas – domestic
31. Oranges
32. Tomatoes
33. Honeydew melon
34. Cauliflower
35. Bananas
36. Watermelon
37. Mushrooms
38. Sweet potatoes
39. Cantaloupe
40. Grapefruit
41. Kiwi
42. Eggplant
43. Asparagus
44. Mangos
45. Papayas
46. Sweet peas frozen
47. Cabbage
48. Avocados
49. Pineapples
50. Onions
(Best) 51. Sweet Corn