An apple a day usually keeps the doctor away -- unless it's ridden with pesticides.
For the 10th year in a row, nonprofit advocacy agency the Environmental Working Group (EWG) has released its list of the most pesticide-contaminated produce, and once again apples top the Dirty Dozen.
The Dirty Dozen, part of the EWG's yearly Shopper's Guide to Pesticides in Produce, is compiled from U.S. Department of Agriculture data on 48 fruits and veggies with pesticide residue data. About 65 percent of the produce samples test positive.
That's bad news for a few reasons: Pesticides have been linked to developmental problems in children, and may act as carcinogens or throw off the endocrine system, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.
"For decades, various toxic pesticides were claimed to be 'safe' -- until they weren't, and either banned or phased out because they posed risks to people," Sonya Lunder, EWG's senior analyst and author of the Shopper's Guide report said in a statement. "While regulators and scientists debate these and other controversies about pesticide safety, EWG will continue drawing attention to the fruits and vegetables with the highest pesticide loads."
For the third year, the EWG has also included two runners up with traces of some of the more dangerous pesticides that don't quite fit into the Dirty Dozen. This year, that prestigious honor goes to leafy greens (which include kale and collards, according to the EWG) and hot peppers, which ranked 12th on last year's list.
But the Dirty Dozen, listed below, doesn't give us permissions to skip the produce with high loads. Rather, consider purchasing organic varieties of these fruits and veggies, and be sure to pick plenty of produce from the Clean 15.