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What are the fruits and vegetables with the most pesticides?

The US nonprofit Environmental Working Group (EWG) specializes in research on chemicals in the food we eat. Every year, this organization analyzes the tests carried out by the United States Department of Agriculture, publishing the most frequent products and pesticides.

Among the findings of its 2017 review, EWG found that nearly 70% of samples from 48 types of conventional crops grown were contaminated with pesticide residues. The pesticides persisted on fruits and vegetables even after they were washed and, in some cases, peeled.

EWG produces a catalog of the ‘Dirty Dozen’ in order from highest to lowest pesticide content.

Fruits and vegetables with the most pesticides

1. Strawberries

2. Spinach

3. Nectarines

4 apples

5. Peaches

6. Celery

7. Grapes

8. Pears

9. Cherries

10. Tomatoes

11. Sweet peppers

12. Potatoes

Each of these foods tested positive for different pesticide residues and contained higher concentrations of pesticides than other products. Pears and potatoes were not found in 2016. Cucumbers have left the Top12 but are still among those with the most pesticides. Cherry tomatoes, lettuce and blueberries are also found near the ‘Dirty Dozen’.

Key figures

More than 98% of samples from strawberries, spinach, peaches, nectarines, cherries and apples tested positive for residues of at least one pesticide.
A single sample of strawberries showed 20 different pesticides.

The spinach samples had, on average,
twice the pesticide residues by weight of any other crop.

On the other hand, they discovered that hot peppers – chili peppers, chillies … – were contaminated with insecticides toxic to the human nervous system (acefate, chlorpyrifos and oxamyl).


To avoid the consumption of fruits and vegetables with pesticides, it is best to go to organic or ecological agriculture.


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