The Most Pesticide-Laden Produce

You won't be questioning organic after reading this list.

By Leah Zerbe


The Most Pesticide-Laden ProduceChemical Chaos

With the heat of summer comes a most remarkable bounty from Mother Nature: Fresh-from-the-farm potatoes to toss on the grill, juicy peaches bursting with flavor, and crunchy bell peppers to liven up salads. 

But there's a dark side to fresh local produce. Many of your favorite picks from the produce section or farmer's market are tainted with chemicals that aren't just toxic to garden pests and bees, but possibly to you, too. In fact, many weed- and bug-killing chemicals have been linked to serious diseases like childhood cancer, lupus, obesity, ADHD, and autism, among many others.

We can't veggie-wash our way out of this problem, either. Most United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) experiments looking at pesticide contamination in produce involve testing produce that's already been washed or peeled.

Looking at more than 28,000 samples taken by the USDA and the Food and Drug Administration, the nonprofit Environmental Working Group (EWG) created a list of the most contaminated produce to highlight the overall pesticide loads of common fruits and veggies. See why sourcing organic produce is so important…

Apples1. Apples

Around 99 percent of apple samples tested positive for at least one pesticide residue, according to the 2013 EWG report. In fact, previous testing from the USDA Pesticide Data Program turned up seven known or possible carcinogens and 19 suspected hormone-disrupting chemicals in apple samples.