Strawberries, Kale top 'dirty dozen' list of tainted produce

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"More than 70 percent of "clean 15" fruit and vegetable samples had no pesticide residues", said the report. In total, nearly 70 percent of conventionally grown produce in the United States are contaminated with pesticide residues.

Analysis of recent data showed that 70% of this produce sold for consumption contained pesticide residues.

Pesticides are commonly used to control weeds, insects or unwanted vegetation in agriculture.

While some people prefer eating organic fruits and veg, MacGregor says they're not always free of pesticide.

More than 90 percent of strawberries, apples, cherries, spinach, nectarines, and kale samples reportedly tested positive for residues of two or more pesticides.

The report also found that one sample of kale had evidence of as many as 18 separate pesticides.

Nearly 60% of kale sampled contained Dacthal, which is a pesticide that's been banned in Europe and the U.S. calls a "possible human carcinogen", The Guardian reports. Fruits and veggies are peeled and washed much like consumers would before eating them, says Alexis Temkin, a toxicologist for the EWG.

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Kale and spinach samples had, on average, 10 to 80 percent more pesticide residue by weight than any other crop.

"The main route of pesticide exposure for most Americans who do not live or work on or near farms is through their diet", said EWG Research Analyst Carla Burns. Kale comes in at number three on the list. Why is the popular green cropping up on the list a decade later? Researchers said they were shocked that kale made the list this year. Even though you would never eat an avocado's skin, the FDA noted this foodborne pathogen can be transferred by a knife.

EWA says the report is meant to help shoppers decide when to buy organic versus conventional.

If you're shopping at your local grocery store for fresh produce and organic versions of the Dirty Dozen are either not available or not affordable, should you opt for non-organic fruits and vegetables instead, or postpone your produce haul altogether?

The Dirty Dozen list does have its detractors, including the Alliance for Food and Farming, which released a statement claiming that avoiding the "dirty" produce on the EWG's list doesn't lead to decreased consumer risk since pesticide levels on most conventional produce are low.

In December, the group protested the Trump administration's support for legislation to enrich the wealthiest farmers in the country with taxpayer-funded subsidies while cutting SNAP benefits-which many low-income Americans can use to buy organic produce. (You know which group we're talking about - you're probably getting that icky feeling all over just thinking about them.) That list keeps getting perpetuated despite the fact that peer-reviewed studies show it's recommendations are not scientifically supportable, while other studies show it may negatively impact consumers since it discourages purchasing of any produce - organic or conventional.

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