Each year the Environmental Working Group judges produce that is sold in the United States for the amount of pesticide residue each fruit or vegetable contains and publishes a list of what is referred to as the Dirty Dozen. The most recent list for The Dirty Dozen might not surprise too many. The 2016 Dirty Dozen list includes the produce that is most contaminated and should always be washed or avoided.

The produce making the Dirty Dozen in 2016 now includes strawberries in first place as the top fruit that should be washed before eating or avoided. Last year and the previous year apples were at the top of the list. For the 2016 Dirty Dozen list, apples were in second place.


The remainder of the Dirty Dozen list for 2016 includes-

  • nectarines
  • peaches
  • celery
  • grapes
  • cherries
  • spinach
  • tomatoes
  • sweet bell peppers
  • cherry tomatoes
  • cucumbers

Readers will no doubt realize that any thick skinned fruit, such as bananas or avocados, will be safer than berries when it comes to pesticide content. The vegetables and fruits that have thicker skins are always the best choice if there is no way to wash the food that will be eaten.

Some people with allergies or other health issues might choose to avoid all of the foods on the 2016 Dirty Dozen list just to be sure they are not exposed to pesticides. Those with compromised immune systems often feel steering clear of all pesticides is the best choice for them. Although this is not easy to do, it is the choice some have to make to protect their health.

Unfortunately, shoppers won’t always know if the fruit or vegetable item they are purchasing should be part of the Dirty Dozen list. Stores in the United States do have items labeled as organic when they are organic. However, when purchasing from local vendors, a certification is not always available to show the food was not sprayed with pesticide. In such cases it is good to know who the person is that is growing the produce they are attempting to sell.

Purchasing only foods that are not sprayed with pesticides is one way of being sure the fruit or vegetables you are eating would not make it to the Dirty Dozen list. Some also think buying whatever is available and just peeling the item will make the food safe. This is not always true due to the fact that some vegetables and fruits are very thin skinned. The thin skin on such foods will not allow the items to be protected from pesticides.

For more information about the 2016 Dirty Dozen list, visit the site for the Environmental Working Group. Details about the items mentioned on the list of foods with so much pesticide might help many decide which food items they should purchase or avoid.

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