The Top 13 Dirtiest Produce Items

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Are you about to plan another trip to the grocery store? Well, before you go there are some safety tips you’ll need to know. According to the FDA, 48 million Americans get sick from contaminated food every year. Surprisingly, the culprit isn’t always what you might expect like meat or dairy. Sometimes the harm is caused by nutritious fruits and veggies.

The Environmental Working Group (EWG) used data from the USDA to compile a list of the cleanest and dirtiest produce. Your fruits and veggies can be contaminated by animals, water, soil, or at the hands of the farm workers, packagers, transporters or the store workers. Non-organic produce has been known to be contaminated by salmonella, E. Coli, and chemical fertilizer. The study from EWG focused on pesticide on produce.

Pesticide protects plants from bugs and prevents bacteria and mold. The USDA allows a certain amount of pesticide in our food. However, the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences says that pesticides increase headaches, hand tremors, and insomnia in farmers and could harm consumers.

The Cleanest Fruits and Vegetables.

The produce with the least amount of pesticide generally have thick skins that are not eaten. Onions are first on the list, followed by sweet corn, pineapples, avocado, asparagus, sweet peas, mangoes, eggplants, cantaloupe, kiwi, cabbage, watermelon, sweet potatoes, grapefruit, and mushrooms.

The Dirtiest Fruits and Vegetables.

The produce with the most pesticide are fruits from trees, berries, and leafy greens because the skins, which holds the most nutritional value, are generally eaten. Listed below are thirteen of the top dirty produce at the grocery store:

  1. Apples
  2. Celery
  3. Strawberries
  4. Peaches
  5. Spinach
  6. Nectarines
  7. Grapes
  8. Sweet bell peppers
  9. Potatoes
  10. Blueberries
  11. Lettuce
  12. Kale
  13. Collard greens

Want to reduce the amount of pesticide in your diet? The EWG says that by eating organic produce Americans can reduce their exposure to pesticide by 80 percent. If you can’t afford organic produce here are some FDA produce cleaning tips to reduce your exposure:

  1. Scrub. Wash your hands for 20 seconds before and after cleaning the produce.
  2. Remove. Eliminate the outer layer of leafy greens. Cut away damage or bruise areas.
  3. Circular Motions. Under warm, running water, wash your produce in circular motions. For firm produce use a vegetable brush.
  4. Dry and Cut. Remember to wash the produce before cutting to reduce the spread of bacteria from the outside skin to the inside.