Skip to main content
EWG's 2018 Dirty Dozen for Pesticides

EWG's 2018 Dirty Dozen for Pesticides

These beautiful, clean strawberries are pretty, filthy, really.

It's official - those beautiful strawberries come with the heavy assistance of pesticides. One third of strawberries tested this year contained 10 or more pesticides.

The USA organisation - EWG (Environmental Working Group) has released it's 2018 report on pesticides in produce. While you would expect some variations in the Australian market, many Australians still rely on this report as a useful guide as while laws and some pesticides are different, the principals around pests are the same.  

If you do nothing else with this information and want to cut down on the amount of pesticides you ingest, then start buying organic or pesticide free from the top of the list. Or buy from a farmer you know and trust who grows pesticide free fruit and vegetables.

The EWG analyse pesticide residue testing data from the U.S. Department of Agriculture and Food and Drug Administration and use it to come up with rankings for fresh produce items. They rank 48 different foods from the highest number of pesticides to the lowest. 

Strawberries topped the list this year with each strawberry carrying an average of 10 or more different pesticides. 97 percent of spinach contained pesticide residue and also had relatively high levels of permethrin which is a neurotoxic insecticide. 

More than 90 percent of strawberries, peaches, nectarines, grapes, spinach and apples tested positive for pesticides residue. One sample of nectarines contained 15 pesticides. Here are the top 20, in order from worst to least worst.

1. Strawberries   6. Peaches 11. Potatoes 16. Blueberries     21. Green Beans 
2. Spinach 7. Cherries   12. Bell Peppers    17. Hot Peppers    22. Tangerines 
3. Nectarines 8. Pears 13. Cherry Tomatoes  18. Plums 23. Raspberries  
4. Apples  9. Tomatoes 14. Snap Peas - imp 19. Kale 24. Grapefruit
5. Grapes 10. Celery 15. Lettuce 20. Cucumbers 25. Butternut Pumpkin

If you are concerned about pesticides in food - and you should be - the top 15 on this list are the ones you should buy organic.

At the very least, if you buy fruit or vegetables that you know are likely to have pesticides on them, make sure you wash them thoroughly.

And if you want to save money, the cleanest fruit and vegetables are the ones to buy non organic. 

Read the full EWG 2018 Report.

Images: Unsplash - Hal Gatewood | Manki Kim

Something incorrect here? Suggest an update below:
Eco Intel Editor

Your point is well made and we get asked this question a lot. The thing is that produce itself is consistent and what I like about the lists are that they are simple and logical so we at least get a better understanding of the basic logic and can make decisions.
If we all waited for the perfect report, we'd never act. I am no food scientist, but what I get out of it is the logic is things like:
Soft thin skinned things or leafy things are logically going to be more pesticide riddled
Tougher skinned things are probably better protected.
So I buy organic / pesticide free strawberries & spinach when I can and don't worry so much about avocados. Corn - well I am sus about GMO so I buy organic even though it has no pesticides.
See what I mean?
I know it's simplistic, but it's more info than we would otherwise have. Friday, 25 August 2017

Steve H

Is this really relevant to Australia? Different growing conditions, pests & diseases mean different amounts and types of chemicals are used. Friday, 25 August 2017