16 Most Contaminated Fruits

  • Jane
  • Friday, October 3, 2008
  • Our world seems to be increasingly toxic.  And while I feel rather confident that switching to a vegan diet has eliminated the most harmful offenders from my daily intake, I am aware that pesticides are something I can't escape in my every day life.  I recently came across a website that's worth sharing...  The Environmental Working Group (EWG) has compiled some information about pesticides and produce.

    The produce ranking was developed by analysts at the not-for-profit Environmental Working Group (EWG) based on the results of nearly 43,000 tests for pesticides on produce collected by the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration between 2000 and 2005. A detailed description of the criteria used in developing the rankings is available as well as a full list of fresh fruits and vegetables that have been tested.

    The EWG has ranked fruits and vegetables according to their pesticide load (100 represents the highest pesticide load).   According to their rankings, here are the Un-Sweet Sixteen...  these fruits and veggies have rankings over 50...




    1 (worst)


    100 (highest pesticide load)





    Sweet Bell Peppers


















    Grapes - Imported















    Green Beans



    Hot Peppers





    In case you're wondering, there were two vegetables which scored a 1; onions and avocados.  Tomatoes weren't too shabby either at 30, so it looks like salsa is a good thing.

    Click here for the EWGs complete list.

    And here's what the EWG recommends you do to reduce your exposure to pesticides on produce:

    Nearly all of the data used to create these lists already considers how people typically wash and prepare produce (for example, apples are washed before testing, bananas are peeled). While washing and rinsing fresh produce may reduce levels of some pesticides, it does not eliminate them. Peeling also reduces exposures, but valuable nutrients often go down the drain with the peel. The best option is to eat a varied diet, wash all produce, and choose organic when possible to reduce exposure to potentially harmful chemicals.

    21 thoughts on “16 Most Contaminated Fruits

    1. Great post. You’re right that cutting out meat also gets ride of a lot of bad toxins, but an organic vegan diet is probably the healthiest. Yes, organic fruits and veggies in supermarkets is more expensive, but try going to a local farmer. Even if they aren’t certified organic (which costs a lot – too much for many small farms), farmers usually use little to no pesticides to save costs.

    2. This is a good post. The bell peppers bum me out the most because it’s the one vegetable that is almost prohibitively expensive to by organic.

    3. Hi Karmality,
      Thanx. Yes, we definitely try to be organic, at least for the most egregious offenders. Our farmers market vendors often have hand written signs saying “no spray” – whether they are or not who knows.

      Hi Bex,
      Thanks. Yeah, I can relate to the bell peppers. I’m pretty bummed about them too. Strawberries are my issue. But, as my brother is fond of saying, “it’s expensive to live.”

    4. Wow…thank you for providing this information. I must admit that I do eat the majority of those fruits and veggies in that top 16 list. Does this also include organic food? Does this mean I should be avoiding the top 16 even if they are organic?

    5. oh no! 1 and 2 are my favorites! :( good thing onions and avocados are spared. 😀 it’d be really good to know if there are ways on how to get uncontaminated versions of these 16, if at all possible.

    6. Most contaminated fruits and vegetables can be avoided by buying Organic and washing thouroughly before eating.

      Look for reputable grocers like Trader Joes and Whole Foods Markets. Ask questions. Common sense will guide you as long as you stop and think.

      I do all the cooking in my house. So being anal about what my family eats is a high priority.

      You can avoid most problems in this manner.

    7. The problem with this is that it doesn’t compare fruits/veggies to flesh, dairy & eggs, where pesticides & toxins biocompound, before then being consumed by those naive/stupid enough to eat them.
      According to the EPA, 95 to 99% of all human pesticide/insecticide ingestion is from flesh meat, dairy & eggs. I’d love to see exactly how these fruits compare to any animal product; my guess is that the amounts of pesticide here absolutely pale in comparison.

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