2016 Dirty Dozen: The 12 Fruits And Veggies With The Most Pesticides

The Environmental Working Group (EWG) came out with their annual report yesterday: The Shopper’s Guide to Pesticides in Produce.

Each year they test thousands of samples of produce to find out how many synthetic chemicals are really in conventional produce.

Their mission is to make it easier for you to decide what foods are worth spending extra for when it comes to organic produce.

It’s best to buy organic produce whenever possible, but sometimes you might not always have the choice even if you wanted to. (Depending on the time of year or where you live).

So let’s see just how many pesticides are on your conventional fruits and veggies this year.

The Dirty Dozen

“More than 98 percent of strawberry samples, peaches, nectarines, and apples tested positive for at least one pesticide residue.” These four fruits topped The Dirty Dozen List. And with strawberries owning the number 1 spot this year, they found that single samples of strawberries showed 17 different pesticides.

You may be thinking, “That’s ok! I wash my all my fruits and veggies.” But these pesticides stayed on fruits and veggies even after washing. And for some, even after peeling!

The Dirty Dozen:

  1. Strawberries
  2. Apples
  3. Nectarines
  4. Peaches
  5. Celery
  6. Grapes
  7. Cherries
  8. Spinach
  9. Tomatoes
  10. Sweet Bell Peppers
  11. Cherry Tomatoes
  12. Cucumbers

But there is some good news…

The Clean Fifteen

The EWG also puts together a list called The Clean Fifteen. This list shows produce that is least likely to hold pesticide residue. In fact, relatively few pesticides were on these foods. Take avocados for instance (which were declared #1 on the list). It was found that, “only 1 percent of avocado samples showed any detectable pesticides.”

  1. Avocados
  2. Sweet Corn
  3. Pineapples
  4. Cabbage
  5. Sweet Peas, Frozen
  6. Onions
  7. Asparagus
  8. Mangos
  9. Papayas
  10. Kiwi
  11. Eggplant
  12. Honeydew Melon
  13. Grapefruit
  14. Cantaloupe
  15. Cauliflower


The Dirty Dozen,2016

Personally, I like to use these lists when I go grocery shopping. It helps me be realistic about the foods I should go organic for and others that I probably don’t have to (like the ones of The Clean Fifteen list). So I’ve created a downloadable (and printable) PDF for you to have, too!

Download the printable PDF of The Dirty Dozen and Clean Fifteen.
Dean Neuls, AlgaeCal CEO and Co-Founder

7 thoughts on “2016 Dirty Dozen: The 12 Fruits And Veggies With The Most Pesticides

Susan w

Thank you. This will be very helpful.


Wonderful! Always here to help 🙂

– Monica from AlgaeCal


Thank you for looking out for us. Much appreciated!

sylvia zambanini

I find these two lists very helpful. I don’t see green beans on either list. Consumer Reports say green beans have the most
pesticides and should be avoided, although my family and I like green beans. Any comment?

Avis Heithoff

I am rather upset with the dirty dozen list which is about the normal for out diets……..we live in the rural area away from large, fancy grocery stores so do not always have access to the good list and then perhaps cannot afford a $5 pineapple. Much of the good list is very seasonal and yet we are pushed daily to eat our fruits and vegetables. What is one to do? I did not see oranges and berries on either list. Thank you for listening. Just saying some of us have no choices.


Hi Avis,

Definitely understand the frustration! We are based in Vancouver, Canada so pineapples, papayas and mangos (on the Clean Fifteen) are never grown locally :). My work around is to buy these frozen, usually in a ‘tropical mix’ where I put them in my smoothies or unthaw them and have them as is or with yogurt. Same with peas and corn. This allows me to get these very ‘seasonal’ items during off-season as well – and it doesn’t break the bank compared to fresh. When it comes to nutritional value, these frozen items are usually just as, if not more nutritious than fresh as they are frozen as soon as they are picked. Fresh produce on the other hand, is usually picked before they are ripe, shipped thousands of miles and then get to your local grocer’s.

If you want to go to EWG’s actual website, they do extend the lists further. You can see that here: https://www.ewg.org/foodnews/dirty_dozen_list.php

Hope this helps!

– Monica from AlgaeCal

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