Health and Wellness

2023's 'Dirty Dozen': The 12 fruits and vegetables with the most pesticides—and 4 tips for enjoying them safely

Yulia Reznikov | Moment | Getty Images

We're often told to avoid unhealthy foods like sugary cereals, but there are some fruits and vegetables that should also be met with caution.

"Nearly 75 percent of non-organic fresh produce sold in the U.S. contains residues of potentially harmful pesticides," according to the Environmental Working Group, a nonprofit organization that aims to create a healthier environment.

Certain pesticides have been linked to health issues like birth defects, miscarriages and developmental disabilities in children, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention states.

The EWG analyzes data collected by the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the Food and Drug Administration to rank non-organic produce with the most pesticides every year, and has done so since 2004.

For their 2023 Shopper's Guide to Pesticides in Produce, the EWG used data that tested over 46,000 samples of 46 different fruits and vegetables.

Blueberries and green beans joined the "Dirty Dozen" this year, while strawberries and spinach reclaimed their No. 1 and No. 2 spots, respectively.

Here's the 2023 'Dirty Dozen'

Here's the full list of the top 12 fruits and vegetables with the most pesticides this year.

  1. Strawberries
  2. Spinach
  3. Kale, collard & mustard greens
  4. Peaches
  5. Pears
  6. Nectarines
  7. Apples
  8. Grapes
  9. Bell & hot peppers
  10. Cherries
  11. Blueberries
  12. Green beans

"More than 90 percent of samples of strawberries, apples, cherries, spinach, nectarines and grapes tested positive for residues of two or more pesticides," EWG's report states.

4 ways to lower your exposure to pesticides

To reduce your chances of pesticide exposure from the produce you eat, the FDA suggests:

  • Using soap and warm water to wash your hands for at least 20 seconds before and after handling fresh produce
  • Rinsing your fruits and vegetables before peeling them to reduce the chances of dirt and bacteria getting on your knife from the produce
  • Scrubbing your firm produce like cucumbers and melons with a clean vegetable brush
  • Drying your produce, to reduce bacteria, using a clean cloth or paper towel

DON'T MISS: Want to be smarter and more successful with your money, work & life? Sign up for our new newsletter!

Take this survey and tell us how you want to take your money and career to the next level.

5 toxic brain foods to avoid, according to a Harvard nutritionist
5 toxic brain foods to avoid, according to a Harvard nutritionist