The foods that we eat have not only lost a significant percentage of their intrinsic nutrition over time but have also been contaminated with disease-causing, lethal pesticides that we are often unaware of.

The Environmental Working Group’s 2022 Shopper’s Guide to Pesticides in Produce, released Thursday, gives a substantial idea of the level of pesticide content in food items. Topping the list this year is strawberries, followed by spinach, kale, collard, and mustard greens. Also on the list are nectarines, apples, grapes, bell and hot peppers and cherries along with peaches, pears, celery and tomatoes rounding it off.

Issued since 2004, the report uses the data from the US Department of Agriculture to rank 46 items testing them after washing, peeling or scrubbing, which is how consumers would have them. The list constitutes both the most and the least contaminated foods, and many from the former category tested positive for multiple pesticides including insecticides and fungicides. For example, it was found that over 90 per cent of strawberry, apple, cherry, spinach, nectarine, and grape samples that were tested were positive for residues of more than one pesticide.

Kale, mustard, and collard green are known to be heart-healthy foods. But the report found the highest level of pesticides on them, followed by bell and hot peppers. It also said, “spinach samples had 1.8 times as much pesticide residue by weight as any other crop tested.”

On the other hand, the “clean fifteen” list consisted of avocadoes on the top followed by sweet corn, pineapple, onions, and papaya. Also on the list were frozen sweet peas, asparagus, honeydew melon, kiwi, cabbage, mushrooms, cantaloupe, mangoes, watermelon, and lastly, sweet potatoes.

To avoid buying fruits and veggies laden with pesticides, buy organic, locally produced, seasonal foods, and always rinse and wash properly before cooking or eating.

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