Kale Is Now Considered One Of The ‘Dirty Dozen’ Fruits and Vegetables Most Likely To Contain Pesticides

Strawberries continue to top the list of most pesticide-contaminated of fruits and vegetables.

Image of kale in a salad
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Strawberries continue to top the list of most pesticide-contaminated of fruits and vegetables.

Every year, an independent study delves into what is considered the “dirty dozen” in the vegetable world. These vegetables are those that have been studied and are believed to contain the most pesticide residues out of all the vegetables offered for sale. For those that enjoy their kale fix, the news is not good. Nonetheless, it is strawberries that continue to top the list.

According to CNN, strawberries have topped the 2019 Dirty Dozen list for the fourth year in a row. However, kale has rejoined the list this year, having been out of the list since its entry in 2009, when it placed eighth. This year, it has rejoined the list at number three. Spinach fills the gap between strawberries at No. 1 and kale at No. 3. By comparison, avocados, sweet corn, and pineapples top the Clean 15 list of produce that contains the least amount of pesticide residue.

These lists are compiled by the Environmental Working Group (EWG), which is a “nonprofit, nonpartisan environmental organization,” according to CNN. Every year since 2004, the group forms the Dirty Dozen list from 47 of the most popular fruits and vegetables available to shoppers. In addition, the group makes the distinction between pesticide residues both prior to washing and after washing the fruits and vegetables.

The organization used 40,900 samples of fruits and vegetables which have been tested by the Food and Drug Administration and the United States Department of Agriculture. It has been discovered that both the weather and pest levels help to determine which fruits and vegetables are adversely affected by pesticides from year to year. The recent testing for this year’s list has also discovered that approximately 70 percent of “produce sold for consumption” came with pesticide residues.

“The main route of pesticide exposure for most Americans who do not live or work on or near farms is through their diet,” said EWG research analyst Carla Burns.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), pesticides can be beneficial in fruit and vegetable growth. However, it is also believed that there can be dangers for pesticide consumption in humans. Some studies have shown links between pesticide consumption with cancer risk and fertility issues, as well as other health concerns. As a result of this, the EWG aims to create the Dirty Dozen list and a Clean 15 list that helps consumers decide which types of produce is the better option for their health.

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However, Teresa Thorne, executive director of the Alliance for Food and Farming, doesn’t believe that pesticide residues on foods are a major concern for consumers.

“That’s largely because residues are so low, if present at all,” she said.

The complete Dirty Dozen and Clean 15 lists can be accessed via the Environmental Working Group website.