The Environmental Working Group, a health research and advocacy organization, has launched its 10th annual Shopper's Guide to Pesticides in Produce. The list, dubbed the "Dirty Dozen," outlines the fruits and vegetables that had the highest levels of pesticide residues.
Apples top the list, followed by strawberries, grapes, celery, peaches, spinach, sweet bell peppers, imported nectarines, cucumbers, cherry tomatoes, imported snap peas and potatoes.
These foods may have the most pesticide residue, but in none of the cases were the levels in excess of the legal limits.
"EWG's Shopper's Guide helps people find conventional fruits and vegetables with low concentrations of pesticide residues," said Sonya Lunder, the group's senior analyst and principal author of the report, in a statement. "If a particular item is likely to be high in pesticides, people can go for organic."
The report also highlights the "Clean 15," or the fruits and vegetables that had the least pesticide residues. They include avocados, sweet corn, pineapples, cabbage, frozen sweet peas, onions, asparagus, mangoes, papayas, kiwis, eggplant, grapefruit, cantaloupe, cauliflower and sweet potatoes.
None of the fruit samples on the "Clean 15" tested positive for more than four types of pesticides.
The group looked at 32,000 fruit and vegetable samples from a database of pesticide tests conduced by the U.S. Department of Agriculture and federal Food and Drug Administration. According to the report, pesticides were detected on two out of every three samples.
The group also highlighted leafy greens such as kale and collard greens and hot peppers as foods that contain trace levels of what it calls "highly hazardous pesticides." If you happen to eat a lot of these, the agency recommends buying organic.