ShutterstockVisit a grocery store in America, and at some point you'll ask: "Should I buy organic produce to avoid pesticides, or just get the cheaper stuff?"
A single sample of strawberries showed 20 different pesticides.
"We were surprised to see how informational content that named specific fruits and vegetables as having the highest pesticide residues increased the percentage of shoppers who said they would be unlikely to purchase any type of fruits and vegetables", says Dr. Britt Burton-Freeman, Associate Professor of Food Science and Nutrition, IIT's Center for Nutrition Research. "This is a good wake-up call for them".
The amount of pesticides on conventionally grown pears have skyrocketed in recent years, putting this popular snack fruit back on EWG's Dirty Dozen™ list. The list includes strawberries, spinach, nectarines, apples, peaches, pears, cherries, grapes, celery, tomatoes, sweet bell peppers and potatoes.
The "Clean Fifteen", on the other hand, were: sweet corn, avocados, pineapples, cabbage, onions, frozen sweet peas, papayas, asparagus, mangos, eggplant, honeydew melon, kiwi, cantaloupe, cauliflower and grapefruit.
If you're curious how the rest of the produce ranked, check out the full list of rankings here. In all, USDA researchers found 178 different pesticides and pesticide breakdown products in the thousands of fruit and vegetable samples tested in 2016.
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The Environmental Working Group recommends buying organic produce whenever possible to reduce exposure to pesticides.
"From the surge in sales of organic food year after year", Lunder said, "it's clear that consumers would rather eat fruits and vegetables grown without synthetic pesticides".
Among these 15, avocados and sweet corn were the cleanest - only 1 percent of samples showed any detectable pesticides, while more than 80 percent of pineapples, papayas, asparagus, onions and cabbage had no pesticide residues.
The IIT scientists surveyed 510 low income consumers in the Chicago area to learn more about what terms and information about fruits and vegetables may influence their shopping intentions.
An annual report by the Environmental Working Group found that almost 70% of samples of 48 types of conventionally grown produce were contaminated with pesticide residues.
The Alliance for Food and Farming, which represents organic and non-organic growers, is opposed to the EWG's list. The study found these foods contained few pesticides and pesticide residue. That report essentially says that we don't need pesticides to produce enough food to feed the world.