Strawberries harness some seriously incredible health powers. The low-sugar, high-fiber, antioxidant-packed berries help reduce arthritis pain, lower your risk of cancer and even provide natural protection from sunburn. Unfortunately, chemical farming threatens all of that powerful strawberry nutrition. A 2016 Dirty Dozen report from Environmental Working Group (EWG) highlights the 12 produce picks most often contaminated with harmful pesticide levels.
This is the first year that strawberries topped the Dirty Dozen list. (Nonorganic apples previously topped the list.) But when you realize that nonorganic farmers use a type of poisonous gas for pre-planting fumigation — and that one strawberry sample is capable of testing positive for 17 different pesticides — it’s clear organic strawberries should be on your shopping list. That’s especially true since Americans eat an average of 8 pounds of fresh strawberries annually. (1)
2016 Dirty Dozen List
EWG uses the latest pesticide residue data from government testing to create a list of fruits and vegetables with the highest pesticide loads. It’s important to note that even after being washed or sometimes even peeled, residues levels remained. That’s because many pesticides are systemic, meaning they are taken up inside of the plant, becoming part of the actual fruit or veggie. The most pesticide-contaminated produce items are:
- Sweet bell peppers
- Cherry tomatoes
EWG also found that nonorganic hot peppers, kale and collard greens contain trace levels of particularly toxic pesticides. Opt for organic versions of these veggies, too.