So, when buying organic produce is not an option, use the Shopper's Guide to choose conventional foods lower in pesticide residues. The "Clean Fifteen" list includes - in order - avocados, sweet corn, pineapples, cabbages, onions, frozen sweet peas, papayas, asparagus, mangoes, eggplants, honeydew melons, kiwis, cantaloupe, cauliflower and broccoli.
"One strawberry sample contained an astounding 22 pesticide residues", the EWG website says. Avocados and sweet corn were found to be the least polluted, with fewer than 1 percent of tested samples showing pesticides or residue.
Rinsing produce under tap water is an effective way to eliminate pesticide residues from produce, according to the Connecticut Agricultural Experiment Station, a government-run scientific group.
The USDA's 2016 Pesticide Data Program Annual Summary found that more than 99.5 percent of food samples tested had pesticide residues well below benchmark levels established by the Environmental Protection Agency.
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The group says conventionally grown strawberries are typically dosed with dozens of pesticides before and after being planted. "Pesticides can cause harm to infants, babies and young children at even low levels like those found on some foods".
Again this year, EWG has expanded the Dirty Dozen list to highlight hot peppers, which do not meet our traditional ranking criteria but were found to be contaminated with insecticides toxic to the human nervous system.
It's springtime and many of us are craving colorful seasonal delights, like for example, a strawberry spinach salad, but strawberries and spinach both top the list when it comes to pesticide contamination. The study led to enactment of the 1996 Food Quality Protection Act, which set safety standards for pesticides on foods.
"Any report telling people not to eat fresh produce is beyond silly and potentially very harmful advice", said USApple President and CEO Jim Bair.
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"Consumers have more choices now than ever before when it comes to the fruits and vegetables they consume", Stenzel said.
Alliance for Food and Farming executive director Teresa Thorne told USA Today that that Dirty Dozen list may sway low-income consumers from buying produce, which could be "harming public health efforts to improve the diets of Americans".
Spinach samples had, on average, nearly twice as much pesticide residue by weight compared to any other crop.
A nonprofit health organization has listed the top fruits and vegetables contaminated by pesticides. "The right mix can help you be healthier now and in the future".
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EWG also released its Clean Fifteen list which features fruits and vegetables that are "least likely to contain pesticide residues".