Strawberries have been officially named the most pesticide-ridden produce, replacing apples on top of the list.
The stats published by Environmental Working Group (EWG) are disconcerting to say the least: pesticide residue was found in 98% of all strawberry samples tested by federal officials! Moreover, 40% of samples contained residues of 10 or more pesticides.
Some of the detected chemicals are linked to cancer, neurological problems, reproductive and developmental damage, and hormone disruption.
“It is startling to see how heavily strawberries are contaminated with residues of hazardous pesticides, but even more shocking is that these residues don’t violate the weak U.S. laws and regulations on pesticides in food,” said Sonya Lunder, EWG senior analyst.
Strawberries used to be a seasonal crop, but with the use of pesticides they are now available around the year. The data gathered by EWG shows that each acre in California (the nation's leading producer of strawberries) is treated with 300 pounds of pesticides!
“The EPA’s levels of residues allowed on produce are too lax to protect Americans’ health. They should be updated to reflect new research that shows even very small doses of toxic chemicals can be harmful, particularly for young children,” Lunder says.
Avocados, on the other hand, have been named the cleanest produce for 15 years straight: less than 1% of samples tested contained pesticide residue.
EWG have also published their annual "Dirty Dozen" and "Clean Fifteen" charts to inform consumers on the types of produce that should be avoided, and the ones that are safe.
The 2016 Dirty Dozen:
The 2016 Clean Fifteen:
“Fruits and vegetables are important for your health,” says Lunder. “But for those on the Dirty Dozen, we recommend buying the organic versions if you want to avoid pesticides on your food.”