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Pesticides on Fruits and Vegetables

When To Eat Organic


Updated May 21, 2014

Baskets of organic vegetables
Tetra Images/Brand X Pictures/Getty Images
There are a lot of good reasons to choose locally-grown, organic produce when possible. However, organic food is admittedly more expensive. If you want to maximize the good you do to your body while minimizing the cost, you could choose to purchase organic produce for the fruits and vegetables which tend to have the most pesticides in the United States. It is estimated that if a consumer avoids eating non-organically grown produce in the top 12 ("Dirty Dozen") on this list, pesticide exposure can be reduced by up to 80%. This list was compiled by the Environmental Working Group from approximately 96,000 studies by the USDA and FDA of the 49 fruits and vegetables listed between 2000 and 2008. There are many fruits and vegetables that are not on this list -- these were chosen because they are most commonly eaten.

The scores given are simply a ranking of the different items, from the most problematic in terms of pesticides, to least likely to have pesticide residue. (Unlike other years, there is no attempt to make the numbers reflect the amount of pesticide residue found, only the ranking.) The fruits and vegetables were washed or peeled as most people use the produce – for example, apples were washed, bananas and oranges peeled. More information about this work, from the Environmental Working Group

Links from the fruits and vegetables below go to nutritional information, carb counts, glycemic index, and low-carb recipes for each item.

Pesticides on Popular Produce

  1. (worst) Celery
  2. Peaches
  3. Strawberries
  4. Apples
  5. Blueberries - U.S. Grown
  6. Nectarines
  7. Sweet Bell Peppers
  8. Spinach
  9. Kale and Collard Greens
  10. Cherries
  11. Potatoes
  12. Grapes – Imported from outside U.S.
  13. Lettuce
  14. Blueberries - Imported
  15. Carrots
  16. Green Beans – U.S. grown
  17. Pears
  18. Plums - Imported
  19. Summer Squash
  20. Cucumbers - Imported
  21. Green Beans - Imported
  22. Hot Peppers
  23. Red Raspberries
  24. Oranges
  25. Grapes – U.S. grown
  26. Cantaloupe
  27. Cucumbers - U.S. Grown
  28. Cauliflower
  29. Tomatoes
  30. Bananas
  31. Broccoli
  32. Winter Squash
  33. Cranberries
  34. Plums - U.S. Grown
  35. Honeydew Melon
  36. Sweet Potato
  37. Grapefruit
  38. Watermelon
  39. Cantaloupe - U.S. Grown
  40. Cabbage
  41. Eggplant
  42. Kiwi
  43. Asparagus
  44. Sweet Peas (frozen)
  45. Mango
  46. Pineapple
  47. Sweet Corn (frozen)
  48. Avocado
  49. Onions (least)
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