The Worst Produce for Pesticide Residue in 2022

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Strawberries again rank as the “dirtiest” produce, at least according to one nonprofit.

The sweet summertime staple earned the No. 1 spot on the Environmental Working Group’s latest annual ranking of fruits and vegetables with the most pesticide residue — the “Dirty Dozen” list.

More than 90% of strawberry samples tested positive for residue of at least two pesticides, according to the EWG’s 2022 Shopper’s Guide to Pesticides in Produce.

And strawberries are far from alone. Some 90% of samples of apples, cherries, spinach, nectarines and grapes also had residues of two or more pesticides.

The fruits and vegetables that made the 2022 Dirty Dozen list are:

  1. Strawberries
  2. Spinach
  3. Kale, collard and mustard greens
  4. Nectarines
  5. Apples
  6. Grapes
  7. Bell and hot peppers
  8. Cherries
  9. Peaches
  10. Pears
  11. Celery
  12. Tomatoes

These are the worst of 46 types of produce that the EWG scrutinized this year.

The produce rankings are based on an analysis of nearly 45,000 samples taken by federal agencies like the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). The rankings account for both the percentage of samples with pesticides and the amount of pesticides detected on samples.

Also worth noting is that before testing produce, the USDA processes it the same way consumers would at home: It peels produce with inedible peels and washes and drains other produce before testing it.

Opposite the Dirty Dozen in the EWG report is what the group calls the “Clean Fifteen,” the produce that fared best in terms of pesticide residue. For example, less than 2% of conventional avocados and sweet corn had any pesticide residue.

In fact, looking at the Clean Fifteen as a whole, almost 70% of samples had no pesticide residue and less than 5% of samples had more than one pesticide.

The 2022 Clean Fifteen are:

  1. Avocados
  2. Sweet corn
  3. Pineapple
  4. Onions
  5. Papayas
  6. Sweet peas (frozen)
  7. Asparagus
  8. Honeydew melons
  9. Kiwi
  10. Cabbages
  11. Mushrooms
  12. Cantaloupes
  13. Mangoes
  14. Watermelons
  15. Sweet potatoes

If this news is enough to make you want to try growing your own produce, check out “How to Plan a No-Waste Garden.”