The 15 Worst Types of Produce for Pesticide Residue in 2023

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Woman shopping for groceries
Nejron Photo /

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

The sweet summertime staple earned the No. 1 spot on the Environmental Working Group’s latest 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 2023 Shopper’s Guide to Pesticides in Produce.

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

The fruits and vegetables that made the 2023 Dirty Dozen list are:

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

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

The produce rankings are based on an analysis of more than 46,000 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.

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 65% of samples had no pesticide residue and just over 10% 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 melon
  9. Kiwi
  10. Cabbage
  11. Mushrooms
  12. Mangoes
  13. Sweet potatoes
  14. Watermelons
  15. Carrots

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