A Guide to Pesticides in Produce

The easiest way to avoid pesticides and other chemicals in one’s produce is to buy certified organic produce. However, this is not always possible. Thus, it’s important to know which crops are contaminated with the highest amounts of pesticides.

The Environmental Working Group (www.ewg.org) found that of the 42 fruits and vegetables with the highest amounts of pesticides, more than half of the total dietary risk from pesticides in these foods was concentrated in just 12 crops. These pesticides are classified by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) as probable human carcinogens, neurotoxins, and endocrine system disruptors. Therefore, if you need to prioritize your organic food dollars, you will still substantially reduce the dietary pesticide risk by just avoiding the most contaminated produce.

First, the 12 most contaminated fruits and vegetables are as follows:

  1. peaches
  2. strawberries
  3. apples
  4. nectarines
  5. pears
  6. cherries
  7. red raspberries
  8. imported grapes
  9. spinach
  10. celery
  11. potatoes
  12. sweet bell peppers

This means you should buy these “dirty dozen” organic, or not at all.

Next, commercial vegetables that appear to have the least amount of pesticides include:

  1. sweet corn
  2. avocado
  3. cauliflower
  4. asparagus
  5. onions
  6. peas
  7. broccoli

Finally, the fruits least likely to have pesticide residues on them are:

  1. pineapples
  2. mangoes
  3. bananas
  4. kiwi
  5. papaya

While it is always advisable to buy 100% organic, if you can’t find or can’t afford to buy these “clean fifteen” organic, you can still rest assured that your overall pesticide risk is still quite low.

Sources: Environmental Working Group, compiled from FDA and EPA data.


This information is not medical advice or takes the place of medical advice and treatment from your personal physician. Consult your own doctors or other qualified health professional regarding the treatment of your medical problems. Those taking prescription medications should consult with their physicians and not take themselves off of medicines to start supplementation without the proper supervision of a physician familiar with nutritional supplementation.

Comments are closed.