Is That Bean Clean? 2024 'Dirty Dozen' Fruits and Veggies Report Will Let You Know

Apr 2, 2024

Before you pop that next strawberry into your mouth, think about how well it's been washed. That’s the advice of the Environmental Working Group (EWG). It's the nonprofit behind this year’s “Dirty Dozen” list. 

In its “2024 Shopper’s Guide to Pesticides in Produce,” EWG surveyed 47,510 samples. They came from 46 kinds of fruits and veggies that were not organic. Just like you might do at home, they washed, peeled, and scrubbed the foods. Then they tested them for pesticides. Despite the standard safeguards, EWG found that certain items retained traces of the toxic chemicals that kill bugs.

The “Dirty Dozen,” from the most contaminated to least, are: strawberries, spinach, kale and mustard greens, grapes, peaches, pears, nectarines, apples, bell and hot peppers, cherries, blueberries, and green beans. The list is nearly the same as last year’s. Grapes leapt from eighth to fourth, though. 

If people eat small doses of pesticides over a long time span, they may feel tired, weak, cranky, or depressed. They also may become forgetful. That’s according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

There are steps people can take to ensure their fruits and veggies are clean, CNN reports. Among them:

• Buy organic produce, if possible.

• Rinse produce before peeling; pesticides (and bacteria) can transfer from a knife onto the ready-to-eat food.

• Use a veggie brush to scrub firm products like apples or melons.

• Wash hands with warm water and soap before and after preparing fresh produce.

Some types of fruits and veggies are less likely to carry pesticides. EWG calls them the “Clean 15.” They are avocados, sweet corn, pineapple, onions, papaya, frozen sweet peas, asparagus, honeydew melon, kiwi, cabbage, watermelon, mushrooms, mangoes, sweet potatoes, and carrots. 

Reflect: How might fruit and vegetable farmers be affected if all pesticides were banned?

GIF of fruit from GIPHY.

Choose the statement that best summarizes the article. (Common Core RI.5.2; RI.6.2)
a. The article describes how to cook various fruits and vegetables.
b. It highlights the safest methods for using pesticides on farms and in home gardens.
c. The article lists fruits and vegetables by their level of pesticide contamination and gives advice on how to reduce your exposure.
d. It argues that all pesticides are harmful to fruit and vegetables and should be banned.
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