Environmental Working Group Shopper’s Guide to Pesticides in Produce™, updated every year since 2004, ranks pesticide contamination of 47 popular fruits and vegetables. The guide is based on results of more than 38,800 samples of produce tested by the U.S. Department of Agriculture and Food and Drug Administration. It is important to note that the samples are tested for pesticides after they have been prepared to be eaten. This means the produce is thoroughly washed and, when applicable, peeled. After these preparations, pesticide residues are still detected on many of the fruits and veggies. Every day, consumers rely on EWG’s Shopper’s Guide to help them make the best choices for their families and reduce their exposures to toxic pesticides.
Buy these organic whenever possible – Updated 2018
- Sweet Bell Peppers
These are ok to buy conventional (not organic) – Updated 2018
- Sweet Corn*
- Sweet peas frozen
- Honeydew Melon
* A small amount of sweet corn, papaya and summer squash sold in the United States is produced from genetically modified seeds. Buy organic varieties of these crops if you want to avoid genetically modified produce.
- More than 98 percent of samples of strawberries, spinach, peaches, nectarines, cherries and apples tested positive for residue of at least one pesticide.
- A single sample of strawberries showed 20 different pesticides.
- Spinach samples had, on average, 1.8 times as much pesticide residue by weight than any other crop.
- Avocados and sweet corn were the cleanest. Less than 1 percent of samples showed any detectable pesticides.
- More than 80 percent of pineapples, papayas, asparagus, onions and cabbages had no pesticide residues.
- No single fruit sample from the Clean Fifteen tested positive for more than four pesticides.
- Multiple pesticide residues are extremely rare on Clean Fifteen vegetables. Only 5 percent of Clean Fifteen vegetable samples had two or more pesticides.