According to the 2016 Dirty Dozen report released by the US Department of Agriculture and compiled by Environmental Working Group (EWG), strawberries have surpassed apples—which had the top spot for five years—as the most pesticide-contaminated food on the market. The annual report showed that 98 percent of strawberries tested contained at least one pesticide, with 40 percent containing 10 or more. Other produce on the Dirty Dozen list includes apples, nectarines, peaches, celery, grapes, cherries, spinach, tomatoes, bell peppers, cherry tomatoes, and cucumbers. Certain pesticides—which often do not wash off and can remain in produce after it is peeled—have been linked to cancer, hormone disruption, reproductive and developmental damage, neurological problems, and risk of impaired intelligence and ADHD in children. On the bright side, avocados topped EWG’s 2016 Clean Fifteen list with less than one percent showing any detectable pesticides. “Fruits and vegetables are important for your health,” EWG senior analyst Sonya Lunder said, “but for those on the Dirty Dozen, we recommend buying the organic versions if you want to avoid pesticides on your food. You can feel confident that conventionally grown fruits and veggies on the Clean Fifteen list have very little pesticide contamination.”
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