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Most Toxic Fruits and Vegetables
11 years ago
| Consumer info

Known as the Dirty Dozen, conventionally grown peaches, apples, sweet bell peppers, celery, nectarines, strawberries, cherries, pears, imported grapes, spinach, lettuce and potatoes contain the highest levels of pesticides, according to the Environmental Work Group (EWG), a nonprofit research organization in Washington, D.C.

Up to 20 different pesticides are used in the traditional production of the Dirty Dozen and contrary to popular belief, simply washing or peeling your fruits and vegetables doesnt guarantee elimination. The pesticides used are often absorbed into the plants which allows them to bind to the fruits and vegetables, making it impossible to eliminate their presence.

The chemicals within these pesticides are reported to disrupt your immune system, nervous system, reproductive system and hormonal system.

Consumers who switch to organic versions of these foods could cut their pesticide exposure by almost 90 percent, according to EWG. It analyzed nearly 43,000 tests conducted by the Department of Agriculture and the Food and Drug Administration between 2000 and 2004.

Eating Organic Decreases Pesticide Levels in Kids

A recent study by Environmental Health Perspectives (March, 2003) found that children who ate primarily organic produce and juice had one-sixth the level of pesticide byproducts in their urine compared with children who ate non-organic food. The study compared children who ate produce and juice that was at least 75% organic with kids eating at least 75% non-organic.

Source: National Library of Medicine

Most in US Would Shun Labeled Biotech Foods - Poll

USA: July 16, 2003

WASHINGTON - More than half of American adults surveyed said they would be less likely to buy a food product at the grocery store if it carried a label saying it contained gene-altered ingredients, according to an ABC News poll released yesterday.

The survey of 1,024 adults also found that 92 percent said the federal government should require labels on biotech foods. U.S. food makers and the Bush administration oppose special labels on genetically modified foods, contending

they meet the same safety and nutrition standards as conventional foods. However, the European Parliament earlier this month passed laws to require labels on biotech foods, reflecting the concerns of many Europeans about long-term health and environmental impacts.

The ABC News poll said that 55 percent of Americans surveyed said they would avoid foods carrying a biotech label. However, that survey response rose to 62 percent among women, who do most of the food shopping for U.S. families.

The sale of organic foods and beverages climbed to $11 billion in 2002, according to a new report by the U.S. Market for Organic Foods and Beverages. This means the annual sales of organic foods grew 1000 percent between 1990 and 2002.

Globally the Organic Food market in 2001 was estimated at $26 billion and is expected to reach $80 billions by 2008.

Support organic farming! Buy products made without pesticides, herbicides, artificial preservatives, or genetic engineering.

A study from the University of Washington reports that school children eating conventionally grown fruits and vegetables are more likely to exceed EPA safety thresholds for organophosphate pesticides than children eating organic produce. Organophosphate metabolites in children eating conventionally grown foods were nine times higher than in children eating organic foods. Professor Richard Fenske, research scientist Cynthia Curl and graduate student Kai Elgethun note that consumption of organic produce represents a relatively simple means for parents to reduce their children's pesticide exposure. (PCC Sound Consumer, February, 2003.)

Organic food makes sense for healthy living and a cleaner and safer environment!

In a review of more than 100 research studies from around the world, the Physicians' Committee for Responsible Medicine found evidence that the vegetarians studied had 57 percent less heart disease, 40 percent less cancer, and 50 percent less high blood pressure than meat eaters.

"Genetically modified food is viewed as unsafe by most [Americans], and the public wants warning labels on food, a new poll finds. 52% believe such foods are unsafe, and an additional 13% are unsure about them. 93% say the federal government should require labels on food saying whether it's been genetically modified . 57% also say they'd be less likely to buy foods labeled as genetically modified. The image problem of genetically modified food is underscored by contrast to organic foods.While only five percent of Americans say they'd be more likely to buy a food labeled as genetically modified, 52 percent say they'd be more likely to buy food that's labeled as having been raised organically."

The government agrees, it makes sense to eat organic foods to avoid certain chemicals. The Office of Children's Health Protection at the Environmental Protection Agency declares that "children are at greater risk of pesticide exposure than most adults," and goes on to warn that "pesticides may cause a range of harmful health effects," including cancer and injury to the nervous system, lungs and immune system.

"Organic farming became one of the fastest growing segments of U.S. agriculture during the 1990's, and producers, exporters, and retailers are still struggling to meet consumer demand for a wide range of organic products," the USDA said in the April issue of its "Agricultural Outlook" magazine.

Vegan foods with Highest Toxic Pesticide Resi

11 years ago

'Organic farming became one of the fastest growing segments of U.S. agriculture...' You'd think they'd catch on!

Vegan foods with Highest Toxic Pesticide Residues
11 years ago

Vegan foods with Highest Toxic Pesticide Residues

1. Fresh Peaches
2. Winter Squash
3. Apples
4. Pears
5. Fresh Spinach
6. Green Beans
7. Grapes
8. Celery
9. Lettuce
10. Soybeans
11. Potatoes
12. Tomatoes
13. Carrots
14. Oranges

Note: Insufficient data for berries - Consumers Union

New Study Finds Organic Is Healthier

We've all suspected it. Now, a growing body of scientific evidence is indicating that organic food is healthier than conventional produce. Researchers from the University of Copenhagen recently reported that organically grown produce has higher levels of nutrients when compared with conventional produce.

Specifically, the organic crops had a higher concentration of vitamins and far more secondary metabolites, which are naturally occurring compounds that help immunize plants from external attack. Some of these metabolites are thought to lower the risk of cancer and heart disease in humans.

U.S. FINALIZES NATIONAL ORGANIC FOOD STANDARDS Secretary Glickman Announces Standards for the Production, Handling, and Processing of Organically Grown Agricultural Products

Got Milk?  
A peer-reviewed medical study, in the International Journal of Health Services, suggests that the genetically engineered bovine growth hormone, rBGH, commonly administered to dairy cows to boost milk production, may promote cancer of the breast and colon. This product has been in widespread use on dairy farms in the U.S., and consumers have been drinking milk from these cows - largely unknowingly - for several years. In addition to the cancer risk, injecting rBGH reduces a cows life expectancy and increases her risk of disease, leading to increased use of anti-biotic injections, thus leaving residues of these drugs in the milk. The milk produced by the sick cows is less healthful because mastisis results in increased secretion of white blood cells, or 'pus', into the milk.

"According to a recent survey, 60 percent of Americans are interested in buying organic products, which in their eyes are better for the environment and also healthier because they are not made with synthetic substances."
- New York Times

Conserving Seafood and Oceans

Q: How can you help reduce the over-exploitation of fish?

A: Get the facts and learn if something is fishy.

The crisis in the world's oceans is staggering -- 70 percent of the most valuable marine fisheries are either over-fished or fished to the limit. This exploitation is fueled by more than $10 billion annually in government subsidies that keep worldwide fishing capacity at more than twice the level that is biologically sustainable. Marine ecosystems are under further stress from destructive practices, such as cyanide and dynamite-fishing, and from "bycatch" of non-target species that claims as much as 29 million tons of fish, seabirds, turtles, and marine mammals every year.

Here are 4 steps you can take to reduce the impact on marine ecosystems and species:

  • Be an informed consumer of fish and other seafood. Ask where the fish you are purchasing comes from and the status of the fishery.

  • Do not purchase Chilean sea bass. Both Patagonia and Antarctic tooth fish are marketed as sea bass. Illegal fishing will result in commercial extinction of these fish in the Southern Ocean within two or three years.

  • Avoid purchasing over-exploited stocks such as Atlantic swordfish, wild-caught Atlantic salmon, and sharks. These fish take a long time to reach breeding age, so their stocks have been depleted quite rapidly. By not buying them, you can give their numbers a chance to recover in the wild.

  • Avoid products from fisheries with excessive levels of bycatch. Animals like shrimp (wild and farm raised), scallops (wild) and oysters (wild) tend to have large amounts of bycatch associated with them, so they should be avoided if possible.

10 years ago

Thank you Tom!  Good information.

There seems to be a few different lists around.

"If you were asked to list a dozen of the fruits and vegetables that you offer your parrots most often, how many of these would be included?

      1. Strawberries
      2. Bell peppers (green and red)
      3. Spinach (tied with 2)
      4. U.S. grown cherries
      5. Peaches
      6. Mexican grown cantaloupe
      7. Celery
      8. Apples
      9. Apricots
      10. Green beans
      11. Chilean-grown grapes
      12. Cucumbers

The above list contains many of the foods that that we feed our parrots daily. Unfortunately, according to a study by the non-profit Environmental Working Group, they are the most toxic conventionally grown fruits and vegetables! This report, Shopper's Guide to Pesticides in Produce, is based on data from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration studies. It found that more than half of the health risks associated with pesticides are concentrated in these twelve fruits and vegetables! Of the 42 fruits and vegetables tested, strawberries were by far the most toxic. They were given a toxicity score of 189 of a possible 200 points, far greater than bell peppers and spinach, which tied at a score of 155. U.S. grown cherries rated 154 and peaches 150." From:

"So which are the most toxic? This information is gathered from FoodNews and they gathered the information from the Environmental Working Group

Most Popular Fruits and Vegetables with highest pesticides

  • Apples
  • Bell Peppers
  • Celery
  • Cherries
  • Grapes (imported)
  • Nectarines
  • Peaches
  • Pears
  • Potatoes
  • Red Raspberries
  • Spinach
  • Strawberries"


10 years ago
Yes lovely, foods we eat on a very regular basis
10 years ago
According to Consumer Health, these are the worst offenders and their scores:

Here are the worst:

Type of produce and Score:

Peaches, domestically grown (N. America)- 4,848 Peaches from Chile- 471 Winter squash, domestically grown- 1,706 Apples, domestically grown- 550 Pears, domestically grown- 435 Pears from Mexico- 415 Spinach, domestically grown- 349 Spinach from Mexico- 256 Grapes, domestically grown- 228 Grapes from Chile- 339 Celery, domestically grown- 255 Green beans, domestically grown- 222

* Full table is available at under "Pesticides" heading, topic "Do You Know What You're Eating?"

Surprisingly, bananas, which used to be heavily dosed with pesticides, scored only 4. One chemical, methyl parathion, accounts for more than 90 percent of the total toxicity load of peaches, apples, pears, green beans and peas. The high toxicity values for winter squash from the U.S. are almost entirely due to residues of dieldrin, a very toxic, carcinogenic insecticide that was banned 25 years ago, but persists in some agricultural soils.

Unfortunately the link to the full table seems to be misdirected...

This post was modified from its original form on 18 Apr, 6:27
Oh my!
10 years ago
Tom, thank you very much for all of the information!! I have been saying for years we need to eat all organic but the argument is always the price. I bet if the family(extended) sees this they may change their mind, you cannot put a price on health. I just can't wait to have a plot of land and grow everything! Although, I am lucky to have a small garden of organic foods
Toxic foods
10 years ago

Much of our food supply is now imported now.

We have no idea what kind of water is used for irrigation as well.

Accidents also happen with organic produce(as evidenced in Salinas, Calif.)

We always rinse ALL foods with a mild vinegar solution.

A salt rub on chicken & then rinsed before preparation are just extra precautions to cleanse foods.

Many cannot afford all organic foods or do not have the ability,climate,time or space to grow their own fresh produce.

Please be sure to rinse even the organic greens offered sealed in bags @ your grocery store.Testing proved that these bagged foods for your convenience had more contaminants than the exposed produce.

Perhaps the bags or how they were handled during packaging.

10 years ago
Thank you Tillie...Good points!
I was confused
10 years ago

When I read the title, I thought it was the FOOD that was toxic, not the poisons.  I personally prefer to eat veggies that either I grow or another organic gardener grows.  I started doing that back in the sixties and it seems to be working out so far.

10 years ago

That little icon thing is what also happens to me on msn messenger when I type several things. On my desk top computer, if I type the word work, an icon comes up from my photos that was a joke about work that was a bit risque, not that one would want that in an IM.

About the clay, is that the betonite, like what is used in intestinal cleansing and in cat litter boxes (the clumping kind, the one that kills cats)? Or is it called something else?

8 years ago

I am always making sure to buy the fruit and veg that has the most toxins in them organic.

8 years ago

Oh my...I must be guilty of a few of these - conventionally grown peaches, apples, celery, nectarines, cherries, pears, imported grapes, spinach, lettuce! Take me to Jail! Sniff, sniff!


8 years ago

Im feeling your pain Clifton !

every time I start feeling good about the foods I eat I run across a thread like this .

Ive been in Jail dont go !the food is toxic .

8 years ago

Known as the Dirty Dozen, conventionally grown peaches, apples, sweet bell peppers, celery, nectarines, strawberries, cherries, pears, imported grapes, spinach, lettuce and potatoes contain the highest levels of pesticides, according to the Environmental Work Group (EWG), a nonprofit research organization in Washington, D.C.


So why dont the FDA mandate a warning lable on the dirty dozen  ?

when veggies go bad
8 years ago

Tom, since the original post is two years old, I do hope that some kind of law has been enacted to reduce the amounts of poisons allowed. I do hope that with the advent of all the food scares from China that people, the "sheeple" will be more concerned with the care and production of their produce. I do sometimes buy veggies, when my lettuces are waning, or my peppers aren't producing well. (we still have loads on from the fall so that isn't going to happen any time soon). We have about the tiniest yard you ever did see but I have plants in places other folks would grow worthless roses and other flower garden plants. I tuck in a plant of brightlights Swiss chard here and there out front for color and harvest stuff to add to salads and soups. I do buy potatoes; we have tried to grow them in our alkaline soil but they do need an acid soil and more room than we have, much like corn. Otherwise, I eat in season, that which is in season. The original local food movement.

8 years ago

Any one know the latest in terms of which are the most Toxic in 2009?

Updated list!
7 years ago


The top ten most toxic fruits and vegetables out of 47 tested (that is, the produce with the greatest pesticide load) were found to be the following (with the most toxic produce first, and least toxic last):

  1. Peach
  2. Apple
  3. Sweet Bell Pepper
  4. Celery
  5. Nectarine
  6. Strawberries
  7. Cherries
  8. Kale
  9. Lettuce
  10. Imported Grapes

The least toxic fruits and vegetables tested were the following (with the least toxic vegetable first, and the most toxic last):

  1. Onion
  2. Avocado
  3. Frozen Sweet Corn
  4. Pineapple
  5. Mango
  6. Asparagus
  7. Frozen Sweet Peas
  8. Kiwi
  9. Cabbage
  10. Eggplant

Broccoli, tomatoes, and sweet potatoes also got good scores for low amounts of pesticides. Most of the tests used to compile the list tested the produce after they had been rinsed and/or peeled.

7 years ago

It still amazes me that so many people do not know about what is being said here.

I just will not eat any of these most toxic fruits or vegetables.  The ones that are the least I do often buy  as my budget needs to be considered too.

Dirty Dozen Update
6 years ago

"Use EWG’s Shopper’s Guide to Pesticides to reduce your exposures as much as possible, but eating conventionally-grown produce is far better than not eating fruits and vegetables at all. 

You can lower your pesticide consumption by nearly four-fifths by avoiding the 12 most contaminated fruits and vegetables and instead eating the least contaminated produce, according to EWG calculations."

6 years ago

I soak all of my fruits and veggies (even the organic ones) in  a sink full of water with a hefty squirt of grapefruit seed extract. It is supposed to remove the pesticides as well as kill any bacteria, fungus or other little nasties they may have on them. No need to worry about e. coli. I read in a book a few years ago that strawberries are the worst pesticide ridden fruit. I grow my own now.

What to think about the pineapple and its' spray
5 years ago

So, what are we to gather about the pineapple? It's go a lot of spray on it.  Why would an island as beautiful as that not have organic practices?

Actually, what I'm thinking is that to throw down an invasive, mint perhaps, will take the weeds and smother them. OR a no brainer would be to simply mow the weeds. What difference would it make to have a field "a little messy" with weeds anyway? Wouldn't it be cheaper and healthier to just mow between the fields?

I think that somebody needs to get involved in this.

This post was modified from its original form on 29 Oct, 7:36
5 years ago

When I had my organic vegan juice-bar/restaurant in Santa Cruz California, I'd order our organic pineapples from Haiti, & never from the Dole or Del Monte plantations because of the use of pesticides etc. The pineapples, of course quite expensive, were worth every effort to get and my efforts were met with customer accolades. I could not keep up with the demand even at $6 per 8oz glass of juice.

5 years ago

Thank you Elaine for that info about pineapple. I certainly will not be including nonorganic pinapple on my list to eat this winter.

EWG tends to be very good; did you send them this info?

Hi Diana
5 years ago

I didn't send them anything, but scoured all their investors etc to see if they are somehow connected to Dole or Del Monte. I didn't find anything incriminating but watched a video made by EWG and they seemed to glaze very quickly over the pineapple issue saying, to my amazement, that there is no problem with non-organic pineapples. I've known for years about the pesticides used to ward off tse-tse fly before exporting from Hawaii. Maybe not so surprising is the monopoly that these companies have at YouTube You'd be hard pressed to find other videos that were made to show the truth.

5 years ago

Elaine, I did send a message to them with the links. I am interested in their response.

5 years ago

That makes me angry! Pineapple is on the clean 15 list but if they are getting so much chemicals sprayed on them that can not be good! I don't think I have ever even seen an organic pineapple anywhere near me! Thanks for the info!!

5 years ago

I just bought the biggest pineapple I have ever seen. I scrubbed it, cut off its neck and slit her sides and got all of her nubs off. Then I cut it into 1 inch slices the round way. I took my pineapple corer/slicer and now I know how they do it in professional places to make it look so perfect.

I think that until we use ground cover like mint to surround and kill off weeds, we will have these people using herbicides. Why spend money on herbicides? 'CAUSE THAT'S THE WAY IT'S ALWAYS BEEN DONE.' Stupid, huh?

5 years ago


most toxic
5 years ago

Great information.   This helps!

mini garden
5 years ago

Thanks for the list of most toxic vegs. I am starting mini garden by starting out with collards right now. This list of foods are the ones I will grow my own. Fortunately for some of us, some vegs can grow out of containers if we do not have enough land to grow.


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