At LivGood, we always encourage you to eat more fruits and veggies, and knowing which ones are the most exposed to pesticides and insecticides is a great step toward chemicals free meals for you and your family.
When making your grocery-store game plan, sorting out which fruits and vegetables on your list you should buy organic can be a confusing task. Growing practices can affect produce, allowing the food to absorb pesticides and therefore leaving trace amounts in your meals. Buying organic, however, can limit your exposure to extra pesticides and insecticides.
Read below to see the 12 fruits and vegetables that we recommend that you buy organic, beginning with the most contaminated food.
Strawberries remain atop the list as the most pesticide-contaminated food. According to the Environmental Working Group, more than 90 percent of the strawberries sampled tested positive for two or more pesticides. If you're concerned about pesticides, this is one time the extra cost may be warranted for peace of mind.
Spinach has more pesticide residue by weight (remember spinach leaves weigh very little) compared to any other produce tested. Relatively high concentrations of permethrin, a known neurotoxin, were found on many samples.
Spinach is an easy food to buy organic—many grocery stores carry organic spinach and baby spinach in the fresh produce section, as well as frozen organic spinach. Spinach is great in salad, and when it's not as crisp it's wonderful in smoothies and cooked down in pasta dishes and soups.
- Kale, Collards & Mustard Greens
Over 92 percent of conventional kale samples tested positive for two or more pesticide residues. 2009 was the last year the USDA provided testing data on kale until 2019 year and some samples contained over 18 different pesticide residues. 60 percent of the kale samples tested had traces of DCPA (Dacthal) which is banned in the European Union and classified as a potential human carcinogen by the EPA. Collards and mustard greens are new to the list in 2021.
Almost all of the conventional nectarine samples, 94 percent, contained two or more pesticides. One sample even included residue from 15 different pesticides.
Detectable pesticide residues were found on 90 percent of conventionally grown apples. A large majority of the samples, 80 percent, contained diphenylamine, a pesticide that's banned in Europe. Apples, like many of the other fruits and vegetables on this list, have a thin peel. The chemicals used in farming can easily pass through the peel to the flesh.
The conventional grape samples tested contained an average of five different pesticide residues. More than 96% of all samples contained some traceable pesticide residues.
Conventional cherry samples had an average of five pesticides detected. A third of the cherries tested contained a potentially cancer-causing pesticide that is banned in Europe.
Like their cousin the nectarine, almost all of the conventional peach samples, a staggering 99%, contained pesticide residues. On average, conventional peaches were found to have residues of four different pesticides.
Samples of conventionally grown pears were found to contain several pesticides in high concentrations, including fungicides and insecticides. Over half of the pear samples tested had residue from five or more pesticides.
- Bell Peppers & Hot Peppers
This year the Environmental Working Group chose to add bell peppers and hot peppers to the list. During testing, nearly three-fourths of hot peppers were found to contain trace residues from highly toxic pesticides.
Pesticides were found to be in more than 95% of conventional celery samples.
The average conventionally grown tomato tested positive for nearly four types of pesticides. It's easy to find organic canned tomatoes and tomato products, as well, which may be a more affordable way to enjoy organic tomatoes. Check out Harmonica and Jardin Bio Organic Canned Tomatoes.
This list should be taken as a guide for making healthier choices. There's no wrong way to use this list, whether that's choosing to buy organic tomato sauce or seeking out organic apple growers near you.