Why Your Apple a Day Better Be Organic

Featured Article, Nutrition
on April 23, 2013
List of fruits and vegetables that are most likely to be contaminated by pesticide residue.
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If that apple you reach for every day isn’t organic, you may not be keeping the doctor away in the long run, according to the Environmental Working Group’s annual Dirty Dozen list, which highlights the produce picks most likely to be contaminated by pesticide residue. Once again, apples were found to contain the most amount of pesticide residue, which can be toxic to the nervous system. (Though the EWG reminds consumers that eating non-organic produce is still healthier than eating none at all.)

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Meanwhile, green bean fans can relax—the veggie is no longer on the list. Lettuce and blueberries have also cleaned up their act, but in their place are cherry tomatoes and hot peppers. For the second year in a row, the EWG expanded its warning, which helps consumers prioritize which fruits and veggies to buy organic, to include 14 items, noting this year that popular veggies kale and summer squash are not the worst offenders but still contain potentially dangerous amounts of pesticides.

The 2013 Clean Fifteen list, awarded to the least contaminated types of produce, is nearly identical to last year’s, except watermelon was replaced by papayas this year. (But don’t erase the summer favorite from your BBQ menu—it’s still No. 13.) The EWG compiles both lists based on data from the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the Food and Drug Administration. Here’s the complete run-down:

The 2013 Dirty Dozen:

Apples
Strawberries
Grapes
Celery
Peaches
Spinach
Sweet bell peppers
Nectarines (imported)
Cucumbers
Potatoes
Cherry tomatoes
Hot peppers

Plus:
Summer squash
Kale and collard greens

Clean Fifteen:
Corn
Onions
Pineapples
Avocado
Cabbage
Sweet peas
Papayas
Mangoes
Asparagus
Eggplant
Kiwi
Grapefruit
Cantaloupe
Sweet potatoes
Mushrooms