12 Foods You Might Want to Buy Organic — and 15 You Don’t Need To

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Shopper in the produce section of a grocery store
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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 2024 Shopper’s Guide to Pesticides in Produce.

And strawberries are far from alone. More than 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 2024 Dirty Dozen list are:

  1. Strawberries
  2. Spinach
  3. Kale, collard and mustard greens
  4. Grapes
  5. Peaches
  6. Pears
  7. Nectarines
  8. Apples
  9. Peppers (bell and hot)
  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 47,000 samples tested by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

Also worth noting is that before testing produce, the USDA peels or scrubs and washes it. The FDA simply removes dirt 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 detectable pesticide residue and just over 10% of samples had residue from more than one pesticide.

The 2024 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. Watermelons
  12. Mushrooms
  13. Mangoes
  14. Sweet potatoes
  15. Carrots

The EWG notes that the benefits of eating ample fresh produce outweigh the downsides, regardless of whether the produce is organically or conventionally grown. Still, for shoppers seeking to reduce their exposure to pesticides, including fungicides, the nonprofit advises choosing organic when it comes to the foods on the Dirty Dozen list.

If this news is enough to make you want to try growing your own produce, check out “How to Start a Vegetable Garden (That Won’t Overwhelm You).”

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