Apples were the unlucky winners of an annual “Dirty Dozen” list of pesticide-contaminated produce.
Strawberries, grapes, and celery came next on the 2013 list compiled by the non-profit Environmental Working Group. The others are peaches, spinach, sweet bell peppers, imported nectarines, cucumbers, potatoes, cherry tomatoes and hot peppers.
Not all pesticides are of equal concern to diners, but the organization particularly highlighted domestically-grown summer squash and leafy greens, “specifically kale and collards,” which didn’t meet the criteria for the main list but still “were commonly contaminated with pesticides exceptionally toxic to the nervous system.”
Next dinner plate looking emptier? There’s also a “Clean 15” list of tested produce with the lightest pesticide load: Corn, onions, pineapples, avocados, cabbage, frozen sweet peas, papayas, mangoes, asparagus, eggplant, kiwi, grapefruit, cantaloupe, sweet potatoes and mushrooms.
The ratings are based on about 28,000 samples of 48 different fruits and vegetables tested by the U.S. Department of Agriculture and U.S. Food and Drug Administration, according to the EWG. The USDA said in a press release earlier this year that “overall pesticide chemical residues found on foods tested are at levels well below the tolerances set by the EPA,” though “residues exceeding the tolerance were detected in 0.27 percent of the samples tested.”