Strawberry lovers…all is not well with your favorite fruit

Every year the Environmental Working Group publishes its Dirty Dozen list naming the fruits and vegetables that rank highest in pesticide residue. This year strawberries remained at the top of the list a single sample of strawberries showed 20 pestici

That is higher than any other fruit or vegetable - pushing strawberries to the top of the Environmental Working Group's 'Dirty Dozen' list.

And at least one study has found the level of pesticides consumers are exposed to via "The Dirty Dozen" is "negligible".

To compile the list, researchers analyzed 48 popular fruits and vegetables based on an analysis of more than 36,000 samples taken by the USDA and the Food and Drug Administration.

"We were surprised to see how informational content that named specific fruits and vegetables as having the highest pesticide residues increased the percentage of shoppers who said they would be unlikely to purchase any type of fruits and vegetables", says Dr. Britt Burton-Freeman, Associate Professor of Food Science and Nutrition, IIT's Center for Nutrition Research.

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For the second year in a row, strawberries topped the bad part of the list, also known as "The Dirty Dozen". The group found that almost 70 percent of samples of 48 types of conventionally grown produce were contaminated with pesticide residue.

And in especially gloomy news for a spicy food lover like me, the list has been expanded again this year to highlight hot peppers, especially jalapeno, Serrano, and Anaheim peppers. Spinach samples, meanwhile, had an average of twice as much pesticide residue by weight than any other crop.

Produce that had relatively fewer pesticides and lower total concentrations of pesticide residues was placed on the group's "Clean Fifteen" list.

Americans eat almost 8 pounds of fresh strawberries per person each year, and even when they are rinsed in the field and washed before eating, they are still most likely to be contaminated with pesticide residue, according to the Environmental Working Group.

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Avocados and sweet corn were the cleanest: only 1 percent of samples showed any detectable pesticides.

More than 80% of pineapples, papaya, asparagus, onions and cabbage that were sampled showed no pesticide residue.

The EWG Shoppers Guide was released the same day as another report by the United Nations special rapporteur on the right to food was presented to the world body.

The IIT scientists surveyed 510 low income consumers in the Chicago area to learn more about what terms and information about fruits and vegetables may influence their shopping intentions. They said that we don't have to stop eating these crops; we just need to eat organic products. Each crop is scored and ranked based on six criteria, including the amount and variety of pesticides found.

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