The Environmental Working Group (EWG) released its annual "Dirty Dozen" list of the most pesticide-contaminated fruits and vegetables for 2016 on Tuesday, and if you enjoy diving mouth-first into a container of fresh strawberries, well, you might want to sit down for this one. Also, considering using a fork, you animal.
Specifically, the new report claims that strawberries are contaminated with more pesticide residue than any other fruit or vegetable tested, including apples, which topped the organization's list for the last five years. EWG looked at the results of thousands of tests conducted by the US Department of Agriculture and the Food and Drug Administration and found that almost all non-organic strawberries came with pesticide residues while nearly half were found to contain at least 10 different pesticides, according to a report by CBS News. Are you sitting down yet?
Although the organization acknowledges that most pesticides are safe to consume, it also warns that others have been linked to various health issues like cancer, developmental damage, and neurological problems. With that said, EWG is calling on government officials to ramp up regulations on what chemicals companies are able to use on their crops. However, the EPA argues the levels of pesticides found in fresh produce are safe to eat, saying, "We perform dietary risk assessments to ensure that all tolerances established for each pesticide are safe," according to the CBS News report. Well, that's comforting...
Here's the full "Dirty Dozen" list:
11. Cherry tomatoes
10. Sweet bell peppers
In addition to releasing its "Dirty Dozen" list, the organization also put out its annual "Clean Fifteen" list of fruits and vegetables that were found to have minimal amounts of pesticides:
12. Honeydew melon
5. Frozen sweet peas
2. Sweet corn
While the "Dirty Dozen" list is a little unsettling, it doesn't mean you have to give up your love for strawberries or avoid your local produce stand. EWG recommends purchasing organic version of the produce on the list and, of course, to wash the hell out of your fruits and vegetables before you eat them to reduce potential exposure to pesticides. In other words, keep doing what you probably already do.
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Tony Merevick is Cities News Editor at Thrillist and is kind of a freak about washing his fresh produce. Send news tips to email@example.com and follow him on Twitter @tonymerevick.