As Americans up their intake of fruits and veggies — especially in light of the most recent government food guidelines and the MyPlate icon — they may also be loading up on pesticides. According to the latest annual report from Environmental Working Group (EWG), you could consume an average of 14 different pesticides each day if you eat five servings of fruits and veggies from the EWG dirty dozen list of produce with the highest levels of pesticides based on the group’s lab analyses.
Apples are in the top spot this year, with pesticide residues on 99 percent of the samples. So what’s a grocery shopper to do? Going organic is one option, as is sticking to the “Clean 15,” or the EWG’s list of foods with the lowest pesticide levels. Cutting out these dietary staples is not the answer, however. “The health benefits of a diet rich in fruits and vegetables outweigh the risks of pesticide exposure,” the EWG says. Use this list to decide which foods you might want to put on your organic shopping list — and how to prepare them to get the most nutritional bang for your buck.