Earlier today, the EWG released the 2018 Dirty Dozen and Clean 15 list. This is an annual study into the pesticides in our foods. Sadly, pesticides are common on conventionally grown produce, even after careful washing and peeling. While fruit and vegetables are an essential component in a healthy diet, research suggests that pesticides in produce may pose subtle health risks.
A recent study by the Journal of the American Medical Association found an association between consuming foods with high-pesticide-residue and fertility problems. Women who reported eating two or more servings a day of produce with higher pesticide residues were 26 percent less likely to have a successful pregnancy than those who at fewer servings of those foods. A similar study, carried out with men, found similar associations with reproductive health.
As the name suggests, the study highlights the foods that are the most ‘dirty’ with pesticides and those that are the cleanest. More than 98 percent of strawberries, spinach, peaches, nectarines, cherries and apples tested positive for residue of at least one pesticide; while a single sample of strawberries showed 20 different pesticides. Spinach samples had, on average, 1.8 times as much pesticide residue by weight than any other crop.
Those least likely to contain pesticide residues included avocados and sweetcorn, with less than 1 percent of samples showing any detectable pesticides, and more than 80% of pineapples, papayas, asparagus, onions and cabbage had no pesticide residues. As I noted in my blog about the 2017 list, fruit and vegetables that come in their own ‘jacket’ are usually the foods that do the best.
As an exception, hot peppers don’t fit into the EWG’s traditional ranking system, but were found to be contaminated with insecticides toxic to the human nervous system.
Relax; you don’t have to give up your summer strawberries or green smoothies. But, it’s highly recommended that you switch to organic to reduce your consumption of pesticides. True, organic food is more expensive, but armed with the lists of both clean and dirty food, you can choose organic when buying from the dirty list; whereas it’s not as essential for the cleaner foods.
The full list
Starting from dirty and moving to clean:
- Sweet bell peppers
- Cherry tomatoes
- Snap peas (imported to US)
- Hot peppers
- Kale / collard greens
- Green beans
- Winter squash
- Summer squashes
- Snap peas (domestic US)
- Sweet potatoes
- Honeydew melons
- Eggplants / Aubergine
- Sweet peas (frozen)
For more information about the Dirty Dozen and Clean 15 list and the fertility studies carried out, visit the EWG site.