Two Vegetables Reported “Extraordinarily Toxic” Yet Not A Part Of The New “Dirty Dozen”


The Environmental Working Group (EWG) has published a new report for the 2016 shopping season that rates produce on the amount of pesticides they are likely to contain. This year the big news is that for the first time, strawberries have surpassed apples taking first place on this list. But read between the lines and you’ll find that there are two “highly toxic” (non-organic) vegetables to be aware of that didn’t make the EWG’s ‘Dirty Dozen’ list this time around.

When the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) tested 6,953 different produce samples almost three-fourths of them contained pesticide residues. This year EWG updated the reports and found 146 different pesticides on fruits and vegetables.

These pesticides remained even after washing, and in some cases after peeling the skin off.
The key findings of this report included:
  • One sample of strawberries contained 17 different pesticides.
  • Over 98% of strawberries, as well as peaches, nectarines, and apples, showed at least one pesticide.
  • Grape and sweet bell pepper samples tested positive for 15 pesticides in each sample.
  • Potatoes had more pesticides by weight than any other vegetable or fruit.
As if that wasn’t bad enough, considering how popular these foods are, there are two other vegetables that actually contain two different highly toxic insecticides not found in any other produce — and they could be a part of your next salad.
Special warning about leafy greens and hot peppers: “Extraordinary Toxicity”
Leafy greens (kale and collard greens) and hot peppers, although not in the “dirty dozen”, contain “trace levels of highly hazardous pesticides” that are highly toxic to the human body.
The pesticides that are especially concerning are insecticides: organophosphate, and carbamate. Because of legalities and voluntary opt-outs they are not found on other produce.
Hot peppers tested high in acephate, chlorpyrifos, and oxamyl in 2010-2011. They are banned to use on other crops, but allowed on hot peppers.
Acephate is a possible carcinogen, and is a reproductive health hazard. Chlorpyrifos is a neurotoxin. Oxamyl can lead to kidney and liver damage (source:

Collard greens tested high in chlorpyrifos, famoxadone, oxydemeton, dieldrin, DDE and esfenvalerate in 2007-2008. Chlorpyrifos and esfenvalerate are not used on other crops, but allowed on greens. DDE and dieldrin are now banned, but still end up in leafy greens from the residues found in the soil.
Famoxadone has been linked to kidney and liver damage; oxydemeton is toxic to the reproductive system; dieldrin increases the risk of multiple myeloma; DDE is associated with aneuploidy (chromosome mutation); and esfenvalerate is a neurotoxin.
Because of the high toxicity of these pesticides, it is recommended to buy leafy greens and hot peppers organic, and if not possible to reduce the pesticide content by cooking these vegetables.

Here is the EWG’s updated ‘Dirty dozen” that is better purchased organic:
  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

See the full list of 50 fruits and vegetables ranked from most pesticides to least pesticides here.
And here is the updated ‘Clean Fifteen’ list for this year:
The Clean Fifteen is the list of the vegetables with the lowest pesticide count, however, they still contain them at low amounts.
  1. Avocados
  2. Sweet Corn (*although no or few pesticides, non-organic corn is most likely GMO)
  3. Pineapples
  4. Cabbage
  5. Sweet peas (frozen)
  6. Onions
  7. Asparagus
  8. Mangoes
  9. Papayas (*although no or few pesticides, non-organic papayas are often GMO)
  10. Kiwi
  11. Eggplant
  12. Honeydew Melon
  13. Grapefruit
  14. Cantaloupe
  15. Cauliflower
For more details, you can check out the full list above. In the meantime, avoiding the Dirty Dozen (and the two additional vegetables listed above that most people don’t know about) is an excellent place to start if you’re interested in saving money on healthier food.
Avoiding toxic pesticides is just one way to slash your cancer risk. For more info, you can check out ‘The Truth About Cancer: A Global Quest,’ airing for free online from April 12 – 20. Click here to watch for free. 

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