Well Being

Eat Less Pesticides: A Guide To Which Fruits & Vegetables To Buy Organic (And What You Can Skip)

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organic fruits and vegetables - tomatoes, onions, broccoli and peppers

The Environmental Working Group just released its latest report pesticides in produce in America. For the 2013 report, EWG analyzed 48 popular fruits and vegetables, using pesticide testing data from the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the Food and Drug Administration.

The EWG tested both domestic and imported produce, which in most cases did not vary drastically in terms of pesticide levels. The exceptions were nectarines, blueberries and snap peas, which EWG has both versions of separately.

Like in previous years, the organization lists the “dirty dozen”—those fruits and veggies with the most consistently high pesticide versions. If you're only going to buy some produce organic, these are the ones you should aim for.

The dirty dozen includes a dishonorable mentions section, which highlights two crops this year: Domestically grown summer squash and leafy greens, particularly kale and collards. “These crops did not meet traditional Dirty Dozen criteria but were commonly contaminated with pesticides exceptionally toxic to the nervous system,” EWG notes.

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But there's also the “clean 15” of the EWG report, the produce consistently found to have the lowest pesticide load. By keeping in mind which fruits and vegetables are most likely to carry toxic residue, you can strategize when shopping—spend a little extra on organic strawberries; save by going conventional on mangoes and onions.

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“The health benefits of a diet rich in fruits and vegetables outweigh the risks of pesticide exposure,” EWG reminds readers in an executive summary. “Eating conventionally-grown produce is far better than not eating fruits and vegetables at all.”