It can be difficult to justify spending the extra cash for organic food, but with the help of the Environmental Working Group's 2011 Shopper's Guide to Pesticides in Produce, you can eat healthfully without having to dump your entire wallet on certified organic produce.
Consumers of produce can reduce their intake of pesticides by 92 percent by choosing nonorganic produce from EWG's list of 15 fruits and vegetables that are less likely to have been sprayed with chemicals.
A "Dirty Dozen" list of fruits and vegetables shows that the 12 most contaminated items expose you to an average of 14 different pesticides a day. Of those, according to the EWG app, six are fruits: apples, strawberries, peaches, domestic nectarines, imported grapes, and domestic blueberries.
Fruits least likely to test positive for pesticide are pineapples, avocados, mangos, domestic cantaloupe, kiwi, watermelon, and grapefruit.
Celery, spinach, sweet bell peppers, potatoes, lettuce, and greens (kale and collards) are the vegetables most likely to retain pesticide contamination.
The "Clean 15" list includes vegetables less likely to be contaminated, such as onions, sweet corn, asparagus, sweet peas, eggplant, cabbage, sweet potatoes, and mushrooms. By eating from this list, consumers might expose themselves to only two pesticides per day.
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The methodology is simple: The Shopper's Guide to Pesticides ranks pesticide contamination for 53 popular fruits and vegetables based on an analysis of 51,000 tests for pesticides on these foods. Contamination was measured in six different ways.
The foods were then compared to their individual USDA test results and then ranked on a scale from 1 to 100, with 100 being the highest. The EWG's Shopper's Guide is not meant to be comprehensive, but it captures the uncertainties of the risks associated with pesticide exposure.
The app is free and available for the iPhone 4S or any iOS device, as well as Android phones.