'Dirty Dozen' Worst Offender Is Most People’s Favorite Fruit

Kim Conte
2

appleHow do you like them apples? Apparently, contaminated with pesticides.

The Environmental Working Group has updated its list of the 12 fruits and vegetables that are the most contaminated with pesticides -- more affectionately known as the "Dirty Dozen list." The worst offending produce for 2011 are apples, which we already knew were pretty dirty; but this new research shows that 92 percent of them contained two or more pesticides even after washing and peeling. I don't know about you, but I think that's disgusting. At this point there's absolutely no way I'm eating anything other than an organic apple.

Think back to 2010: That's when celery, peaches, and strawberries topped the dirtiest list (in that order). Now, apples have bumped celery to No. 2 because so many pesticides and fungicides are being applied to the fruit after the harvest so it can have a longer shelf life, experts say. Notably, cherries have dropped off the chart entirely. Here's the 2011 Dirty Dozen list in its entirety:

The EWG advises you buy the following items organic:

  1. Apples
  2. Celery
  3. Strawberries
  4. Peaches
  5. Spinach
  6. Nectarines (imported)
  7. Grapes (imported)
  8. Sweet bell peppers
  9. Potatoes
  10. Blueberries (domestic)
  11. Lettuce
  12. Kale/collard greens

Of course, the EWG also includes a "Clean 15" list -- those 15 fruits and vegetables that have the lowest pesticide contamination rates. That list includes:

  1. Onions
  2. Sweet corn
  3. Pineapples
  4. Avocado
  5. Asparagus
  6. Sweet peas
  7. Mangoes
  8. Eggplants
  9. Cantaloupe (domestic)
  10. Kiwi
  11. Cabbage
  12. Watermelon
  13. Sweet potatoes
  14. Grapefruit
  15. Mushrooms

You've got to wonder about the timing of the release of these updated lists, however -- less than two weeks after Michele Obama and the USDA released their new food plate, which recommends that fruits and vegetables make up at least half your meal. In light of these new guidelines, some food experts have questioned whether it's irresponsible to scare people away from produce -- especially those who might not be able to afford organic.

The EWG has countered this criticism by clearly stating that "conventional produce is certainly better than none at all." But I don't know how you could read through the Dirty Dozen list (and the corresponding research) and still find conventional apples (and other contaminated produce) appetizing in the least.

 

Image via *Mickey/Flickr

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