Strawberries, Spinach Top Latest ‘Dirty Dozen’ List

Strawberries are once again at the top of the Dirty Dozen list of the Environmental Working Group’s Shopper’s Guide to Pesticides in Produce. Spinach jumps to second on the list.

EWG’s analysis of tests by the USDA found that nearly 70% of samples of 48 types of conventional produce were contaminated with the residues of one or more pesticides. USDA researchers found a total of 178 different pesticides and pesticide breakdown products on the thousands of produce samples they analyzed. The pesticide residues remained on fruits and vegetables even after they were washed and, in some cases, peeled.

The EWG says the most contaminated sample of strawberries had 20 different pesticides. In addition, the group found spinach samples had an average of twice as much pesticide residue by weight than In addition to strawberries and spinach, this year’s list includes nectarines, apples, peaches, celery, grapes, pears, cherries, tomatoes, sweet bell peppers, and potatoes.

Each of these foods tested positive for a number of different pesticide residues and contained higher concentrations of pesticides than other produce. Pears and potatoes were new additions to the Dirty Dozen, displacing cherry tomatoes and cucumbers from last year’s list.

By contrast, EWG’s Clean Fifteen list of produce least likely to contain pesticide residues includes sweet corn, avocados, pineapples, cabbage, onions, frozen sweet peas, papayas, asparagus, mangoes, eggplant, honeydew melon, kiwis, cantaloupe, cauliflower and grapefruit.

Industry Groups Respond
“Any report that tells people to avoid eating apples is giving harmful advice,” said Jim Bair, U.S. Apple Association (USApple) President and CEO. “Instead, we should be more concerned with increasing consumption of fruits and vegetables. And USApple is not alone in this. The American Heart Association, American Cancer Society, American Diabetes Association, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, and Dietary Guidelines for Americans, all say eat more fruit.”

The Alliance for Food and Farming also responded to the EWG’s release, shaming the group for releasing a list when consumption of fruit and produce continues to be low. AFF’s executive director, Teresa Thorne, cited peer-reviewed research by the Illinois Institute of Technology’s (IIT) Center for Nutrition Research and published in Nutrition Today. It found that EWG’s messaging, which inaccurately describes certain fruits and vegetables as having “higher” pesticide residues, results in low income shoppers reporting that they would be less likely to purchase any fruits and vegetables – organic or non-organic.

“In addition to this recent research, the other important reason that we remain frustrated that EWG continues to use this decades-old tactic is that the Centers for Disease Control reports that only one in 10 Americans eat enough fruits and veggies each day,” Thorne says. “This CDC statistic is especially concerning since decades of nutritional research shows that increasing consumption of conventional and organic produce can improve health and prevent diseases, like cancer, heart disease, diabetes, and obesity.”

To count down this year’s “Dirty Dozen” list from EWG, scroll through the slideshow above.

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5 comments on “Strawberries, Spinach Top Latest ‘Dirty Dozen’ List

  1. I still don’t understand why the industry groups or academics don’t look at the underlying flaw in this non sense list…EWG has no credibility since they combine “junk science” with propaganda to send out a truly misleading message…they pull the residue info from an Dept of Ag data base on “conventional” fruit and veggies, never test any “organic” fruit and veggies for comparison (which would probably be higher due to the use of longer residual life altacor) and then go on to tell you to buy organic when there is no data to suggest it has any less residue….and never compare the residue to level to any known health or safety standard….just a bunch of BS and gets more press than anything else out there….as a farmer, I have to listen to this non sense year after year while our industry does nothing to counter it, other than say, we should eat more fruits and veggies, try addressing the facts and stop trying to play the pr game with these guys, since you are bad at it!!

  2. Walt,
    I am a fellow farmer growing organic vegetables as well as conventional pumpkins.

    1. Where do you get the idea that Altacor is organically approved? I am unable to find any organic approval for Altacor.
    2. Having experience with both organic and conventional insecticides, I can assure you I have never yet found an organically approved insecticide that has residual activity lasting as long any conventional insecticide I use.

    I would like to suggest you broaden your horizons a little and put a portion of your farm into organic production. It is a whole different ballgame.

    Best wishes for the 2017 growing season!

  3. Shift 1/3 to 1/2 the fungicides applications to biologicals. Use of endophytic fungal organisms will reduce the number of spray applications needed for control.

    Once these endophytes become registered…there will be absolutely no reason for strwberries going bad from Rhizopus or Botrytis in the shopping cart on the way home…or in the frig later.

    No reason for Aspergillus in peanuts or Fusarium Head Blight in corn or wheat….but the use will require growers to change the way they apply fungicides….Keeping living organisms alive and installing them into plants will be critical to performance. Once the endophyte is installed, fewer applications of hard chemistry will be needed.

    Result: Less residue, better quality and yield.

    While some products are available now…the really good biofungicides should be available in two years.


  4. Awe springtime, I’ve almost eaten the last of the Girl Scout cookie’s , the Knights of Columbus are frying up fish every Friday for lent and Relay for Life is around the corner. What’s the point? This is an annual Earth Day fundraiser. The idea is to frighten people….frighten them into donating to EWG. A sales pitch that appeals to emotion is always more effective than a pitch which appeals to reason. A claim doesn’t have to be true to be effective. A ‘loaded dice’ methodology that produces a conclusion which is in line with a predetermined policy preference or promotional goal . I have great contempt for health care professions, dietitians and physicians with advanced degrees in science, who parrot this garbage.

  5. I want to thank EWG for these delicious mouth watering images, some farmers should be congratulated on doing a great job Go farmers feed the world!!

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