2021 Dirty Dozen List

fruit dirty dozen
 
Nearly 70 percent of the non-organic fresh produce sold in the U.S. contains residues of potentially harmful chemical pesticides, according to the Environmental Working Group’s (EWG) analysis of the latest test data from the federal Department of Agriculture.
 
Kale remains in the third spot on the Dirty Dozen list, now joined by collard and mustard greens as being among the produce items with the highest pesticide load. After being tested for the first time since 2012 and 2011, respectively, bell peppers and hot peppers are also included in this year’s list in the 10th spot.
 
In USDA’s most recent tests, the pesticide most frequently detected on collard and mustard greens – as is also the case with kale – is DCPA, sold under the brand name Dacthal. The EPA classifies DCPA as a possible human carcinogen and in 2009 the European Union banned it.. Other problematic pesticides on greens include the potentially neurotoxic neonicotinoids and pyrethroids.
 
As they have in past years, peppers still contain concerning levels of acephate and chlorpyrifos – organophosphate insecticides that can harm children’s developing brains and are banned from use on some crops in the U.S. and entirely in the EU. In 2017, under the Trump administration, the EPA rejected a proposed chlorpyrifos ban, allowing it to remain on the market and in foods.
 
Whether organic or conventionally grown, fruits and vegetables are critical components of a healthy diet. However, many crops contain potentially harmful pesticides, even after washing, peeling or scrubbing, which the USDA does before testing each item. Since pesticide contamination varies by crop, it is important to understand which items are most or least contaminated. Additionally, fresh items that are most contaminated, such as spinach, strawberries and other Dirty Dozen fruits and vegetables, still have high levels of pesticides in their frozen forms.
 
 
EWG’s Dirty Dozen for 2021:
 
  1. Strawberries
  2. Spinach
  3. Kale, collard and other mustard greens
  4. Nectarines
  5. Apples
  6. Grapes
  7. Cherries
  8. Peaches
  9. Pears
  10. Bell and hot peppers
  11. Celery
  12. Tomatoes
 
 
Of the 46 items included in the analysis, these Dirty Dozen foods were contaminated with more pesticides than other crops, according to an analysis of USDA data.
 
Key findings:
  • More than 90 percent of samples of strawberries, apples, cherries, spinach, nectarines, and leafy greens tested positive for residues of two or more pesticides.
  • A single sample of kale, collard and mustard greens had up to 20 different pesticides.
  • On average, spinach samples had 1.8 times as much pesticide residue by weight as any other crop tested.
  • Hot peppers and bell peppers had the most pesticides detected, 115 pesticides in total and 21 more pesticides than the crops with the second highest amount – kale, collard and mustard greens.
 
 
Article adapted from ewg.org.

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