For the first time ever, strawberries lead the Environmental Working Group’s Dirty Dozen™ list for the fruit or vegetable with the highest number of pesticide residues, displacing apples, which headed the list for the last five years running.
The “Shopper’s Guide to Pesticides in Produce,” updated every year since 2004, ranks pesticide contamination on 48 popular fruits and vegetables. EWG’s analysis is based on results of more than 35,200 samples tested by the U.S. Department of Agriculture and Food and Drug Administration. This year’s update found a total of 146 different pesticides on fruit and vegetable samples tested in 2014 - residues that remain on produce even after items are washed and in some cases peeled.
Nearly all strawberry samples – 98 percent – tested by federal officials had detectable pesticide residues. 40% had residues of 10 or more pesticides and some had residues of 17 different pesticides. Some of the chemicals detected on strawberries are relatively benign, but others are linked to cancer, reproductive and developmental damage, hormone disruption and neurological problems.
In California, where most U.S. strawberries are grown, each acre is treated with an astonishing 300 pounds of pesticides.