testing each item. Since pesticide con- tamination varies by crop, it is important to understand which items are most or least contaminated. Additionally, fresh items that are most contaminated, such as spinach, strawberries and other Dirty Dozen fruits and vegetables, still have high levels of pesticides in their frozen forms. Also important to note is that the
USDA does not test for all pesticides used in crop production. High levels of glypho- sate can be found in several grains and beans, such as oats and chickpeas, due to its increasing use as a pre-harvest drying agent. Notably, the USDA collected hun- dreds of samples of oats and chickpeas in 2019, and glyphosate, or Roundup – the most heavily used pesticide in the U.S. – is known to be used on these crops. But the USDA has not analyzed them for glypho- sate.
EWG'S DIRTY DOZEN FOR 2021
Kale, collard and mustard greens Nectarines Apples Grapes Cherries Peaches Pears
Bell and hot peppers Celery
Of the 46 items included in our analysis, these Dirty Dozen foods were contaminated with more pesticides than other crops, according to our analysis of USDA data. (The rankings are based not
only on the percentage of samples with pesticides but also on the number and amount of pesticides on all samples and on individual samples.) Key findings:
• More than 90 percent of samples of strawberries, apples, cherries, spinach, nectarines, and leafy greens tested positive for residues of two or more pesticides.
• A single sample of kale, collard and mustard greens had up to 20 different pesticides.
• On average, spinach samples had 1.8 times as much pesticide residue by weight as any other crop tested.
• Hot peppers and bell peppers had the most pesticides detected, 115 pesticides in total and 21 more pesticides than the crops with the second highest amount – kale, collard and mustard greens.
EWG'S CLEAN FIFTEEN FOR 2021
Avocados Sweet corn Pineapple Onions Papaya
Sweet peas (frozen) Eggplant Asparagus Broccoli Cabbage Kiwi
Honeydew melon Cantaloupes
These 15 items had the lowest amounts of pesticide residues, according to EWG’s analysis of the most recent USDA data. Key findings:
• Avocados and sweet corn were the cleanest. Fewer than 2 percent of sam- ples showed any detectable pesticides.
• The first seven Clean Fifteen crops tested positive for three or fewer pesti- cides on a single sample.
• Almost 70 percent of Clean Fifteen fruit and vegetable samples had no pes- ticide residues.
• Multiple pesticide residues are ex- tremely rare on Clean Fifteen vegetables. Only 8 percent of Clean Fifteen fruit and vegetable samples had two or more pesticides.
HEALTH BENEFITS OF REDUCING DIETARY PESTICIDE EXPOSURE
Organic standards prohibit the use of synthetic pesticides, among other things. Eating organic food reduces pesticide exposure and is linked to a variety of health benefits, according to an article published this year in the peer-reviewed journal Nutrients. In four separate clinical trials, people who switched from conven- tionally grown to organic foods saw a rapid and dramatic reduction in their urinary pesticide concentrations, a marker of pesticide exposure. Additional studies have linked higher consumption of or- ganic foods to lower urinary pesticide levels, improved fertility and birth out- comes, reduced incidence of non-Hodg- kin’s lymphoma, lower BMI and reduced risk of Type 2 diabetes.
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