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Find Out Which Foods Have The Most Pesticides Before You Shop

By Anthony Todd in Food on Apr 12, 2016 6:36PM

According to EWG, strawberries are the most likely to contain pesticide residue. Photo via shutterstock.

Organic food can be super expensive, and it's sometimes difficult to decide what is worth buying organic if you can't afford (or don't have access to) organic versions of every kind of produce. That's why the Environmental Working Group's "Dirty Dozen" guide is so great—every year, they tell consumers which types of produce have the most pesticide residue.

Not all veggies and fruits are created equal—some retain more pesticides by the time they get to market than others. And it's not always directly correlated with how much pesticide is dumped on the produce in question. According to CNN, three-quarters of produce tested by the USDA contained some pesticides, and 7 percent of strawberries contained pesticide levels in excess of what is allowed by federal law. So it's worth paying attention.

The "Dirty Dozen" refers to the dozen types of produce with the most pesticide. These include, in order:

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

In addition, Kale and hot peppers are on the list, because, while they don't contain much pesticide, the types they contain are particular toxic. They've also got a list of the "Clean 15" (the produce with the least pesticide - eat a lot of avocados and sweet corn) and plenty of other information and their methodology in the full report.

Conveniently, pretty much all of the produce items you need to be most carful about are grown locally, and farmers market season is right around the corner. Don't always assume the produce you buy at farmers markets is organic, but you can almost always ask the producer to get all the information on their crops.