You may want to think twice before snacking on a grape or a cherry: The Environmental Working Group, a consumer health and environmental organization, analyzed the "pesticide residue testing data from the U.S. Department of Agriculture and Food and Drug Administration" and assembled a ranked list of 48 popular produce items in order of their pesticide residue levels.
Topping the list? The humble strawberry, which, according to the EWG's list, showed the highest levels of pesticide residue.
Strawberries were followed by apples, nectarines and peaches, and celery, which rounded out the top five.
Grapes, cherries, spinach, tomatoes and sweet bell peppers also made the top 10. "Pesticide residues tend to decline as the pesticide breaks down over time, and diminish as the commodities are washed and processed prior to sale," explains the National Pesticide Information Center. "By the time food reaches your grocery store, pesticide residues are generally far below the legal limits. However, low levels of pesticide residues may still remain on some foods, even organic foods."
The NPIC recommends taking several different steps to minimize pesticide exposure, including thoroughly washing all produce, peeling fruits and veggies and mixing up your diet "to minimize the potential of increased exposure to a single pesticide."
The EWG's full list of produce pesticide levels is available online.