Kale, strawberries, spinach top ‘Dirty Dozen' list for pesticide contamination

Kale, strawberries, spinach top ‘Dirty Dozen' list for pesticide contamination

Kale ranked eighth on the 2009 Dirty Dozen, the past year for which there was testing data.

Several fruits and vegetables were found with relatively few pesticides, placing them on EWG's "Clean 15" list. Ninety-two percent of the kale samples had two or more pesticide residues.

"Reports from scientists are saying we need to eat more fruits and vegetables - not less - and worrying about minute traces of pesticide is not where we should be focusing our attention". Not only does kale rank third in the Environmental Working Group's (EWG) annual report, but it actually has higher pesticide residues than almost all other produce found on supermarket shelves.

Let's take a look at the highs and lows on this year's just-released list.

Avocados, sweet corn and pineapples were found to have the least amount of residue. When organic versions are unavailable or not affordable, EWG advises consumers to continue eating fresh produce, even if conventionally grown. The group then ranks pesticide contamination for conventionally grown (non-organic) fruits and vegetables in its Shopper's Guide to Pesticides in Produce.

Nearly 60% of kale sampled contained Dacthal, which is a pesticide that's been banned in Europe and the U.S. calls a "possible human carcinogen", The Guardian reports.

Despite the high pesticide residues of spinach and kale, strawberries have maintained their place at the top of the Dirty Dozen list.

"The health benefits of a diet rich in fruits and vegetables outweigh the risks of pesticide exposure", Burns said.

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The group found that more than 90 percent of samples of strawberries, apples, cherries, spinach, nectarines and kale tested positive for residues of two or more pesticides, while multiple samples of kale indicated the presence of 18 pesticides.

Kale, on List for First Time in a Decade, Ranks 3rd on Dirty Dozen™. Dacthal was banned in Europe in 2009.

Naidenko said the produce samples were tested for pesticides after they were cleaned.

The EWG explained that the guide was made to help consumers reduce their "pesticide exposures as much as possible" by reporting what fruits and veggies to buy organic and which conventional produce have low levels of pesticide residue.

The findings make the case for choosing organically grown fruits and vegetables, since research has shown that organic produce has fewer pesticide residues than conventional.

Multiple pesticide residues are extremely rare on Clean Fifteen vegetables.

The odds of developing cancer from the amount of pesticides eaten in an average lifetime are less than one in a million, according to a review of many studies by the US National Library of Medicine at the National Institute of Health.

Kale might be the trendy vegetable these days, but an annual study by a nonprofit environmental group warns it might be less healthy than you think.

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