Especially if you’re trying to get pregnant

If we want to stay healthy we’re usually advised to eat more fruit and vegetables. That’s great advice — as long as the fruit and vegetables that you choose aren’t the ones that have the most pesticides. Be careful what you eat.

The data for this article is taken from EWG’s Shopper’s Guide to Pesticides in Produce™.

In case you don’t know, EWG (The Environmental Working Group)…

is a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization dedicated to helping you live your healthiest life.

Their About page describes their mission as:

EWG’s Shopper’s Guide to Pesticides in Produce™, updated every year since 2004, ranks the pesticide contamination of 46 popular fruits and vegetables. The guide is based on test results by the Department of Agriculture and the Food and Drug Administration of around 45,000 samples of produce. It is important to note that the samples are tested for pesticides after they have been prepared to be eaten. This means the produce has been thoroughly washed and, when applicable, peeled. After these preparations, pesticide residues are still detected on many of the fruits and veggies.

I would highly recommend you read their report in full. It’s a real eye-opener.

Their latest report notes that over 70% of non-organic, fresh produce that’s sold in the US has residues of pesticides.

As well as pesticides, over 50% of some produce has bee-killing neonic insecticides that are banned in the EU.

In the report, EWG listed the produce that “were contaminated with more pesticides than other crops, according to our analysis of USDA data”.

The top 6 were as follows:

  1. Strawberries — These are among my favorite fruits, so it’s disappointing to see them at the top of the list. More than 90% of strawberries tested positive for residues of two or more pesticides. This was also the case for apples, cherries, nectarines, spinach, and grapes.
  2. Spinach — I don’t eat much spinach, so this doesn’t affect me too much. Just like strawberries, more than 90% tested positive.
  3. Kale, collard, and mustard greens — I love eating green, so this is another major disappointment. Kale is almost always shown on lists of superfoods. It’s a shame that it’s one of the most contaminated vegetables. Here’s something truly shocking from the report — “A single sample of kale, collard and mustard greens had up to 21 different pesticides.
  4. Nectarines — Another favorite of mine, but I only eat them in the summer months. My comment about strawberries above also applies to nectarines.
  5. Apples — Apples are a very popular fruit that almost everyone eats. It’s not great news that over 90% are contaminated with pesticide residues.

Frightening findings

This is the most frightening finding from the report for me:

The pesticide most frequently detected on collards, mustard greens and kale is DCPA — sold under the brand name Dacthal — which is classified by the EPA as a possible human carcinogen and which was banned by the EU in 2009.

What to do?

I usually buy organic produce if it’s available, as this is a great way to minimize my intake of pesticides.

From now on I try to avoid as much as possible non-organic produce from the list above. It’s just not worth the health risk.


Studies have shown that eating higher amounts of organic foods improved fertility and birth outcomes.


Eating higher amounts of organic foods has also been shown to lead to “reduced incidence of non-Hodgkin lymphoma, lower BMI and reduced risk of Type 2 diabetes”.

Clean produce

The report also lists produce that is considered to be “clean”. I will be eating more from this list.

The list includes avocados, sweet corn, pineapple, onions, papaya, sweet peas, asparagus, Honeydew melon, Kiwi, cabbage, mushrooms, Cantaloupe, watermelon, and sweet potatoes.

As mentioned above, I would strongly advise you to read the whole report.

Stay healthy.

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