Fruits and Vegetables: The fruits and vegetables listed below have high levels of pesticides even after being washed, so these are a priority for buying organic. Most are thin-skinned, making them very susceptible to contamination. In general, produce with thicker skins retain less pesticide residues. According to the Environmental Working Group, the following items contain the highest concentration of pesticides.
- Peaches and Nectarines: Peaches require a large amount of pesticides to grow conventionally and have extremely delicate skin, making them the top organic fruit pick – with nectarines not far behind.
- Apples: Apples are the second priority when choosing organic produce, as their pesticide loads consistently test high.
- Bell Peppers: Bell peppers are the number one vegetable to buy organic. They have thin skins and are heavily sprayed with insecticides.
- Celery: Celery lacks a protective outer layer and needs many different chemicals for conventional growth, making it number two on the list of vegetables to buy organic.
- Strawberries: Strawberries rank high on the organic priority list. They are treated with very large amounts of pesticides, including fungicides. When purchased out-of-season, they probably come from a country with inadequate pesticide regulations.
- Cherries: Cherries continually rank high for pesticide contamination.
- Lettuce and Spinach: Lettuce and spinach are often found to have high levels of various pesticides – sometimes very potent types.
- Imported Grapes: Imported grapes are likely to have higher pesticide levels than domestic. Vineyards may be sprayed with a number of different pesticides throughout the growing season. Because grapes have a permeable skin, even peeling will not eliminate the residues.
- Pears: Pears consistently show high levels of pesticides when tested.
- Potatoes: Potatoes are at high risk for pesticide contamination and may also be affected by chemicals, such as fungicides, in the surrounding soil.
Safer Non-Organic Foods
Other produce that are less risky to buy non-organic include:
- Fruit: pineapple, mango, kiwi, banana, mango, papaya, blueberries, watermelon
- Vegetables: onions, avocado, sweet corn, sweet peas, asparagus, cabbage, broccoli, eggplant