Summertime is the height of fruit season. At no other time of year can you get fruit that tastes as juicy and sweet as it does right now. The only problem? Most of it has been soaked in pesticides. Fruit is notoriously difficult to grow organically and without pesticides, says Jeff Moyer, farm director at the Rodale Institute, an organic research institution. “Fruit is colorful and high in sugar content,” he adds. “We all, many insects included, love sugar.” Because most fruits have soft skins, the pesticides that are used to kill those bugs (and the molds and fungi that also love fruit) get into the flesh and into your mouth, and no amount of peeling or washing can remove them.
Each year, the nonprofit Environmental Working Group (EWG) analyzes data from the USDA's Pesticide Data Monitoring Program and issues a list of the most and least pesticide-contaminated fruits and vegetables. Following are the fruits you should always buy organic because of the high levels of pesticides found on—and in—them. Of course, “if your choice is between a chocolate doughnut and a conventionally grown peach, the peach should be the obvious pick,” says Sonya Lunder, senior analyst at EWG.