The Dirty Dozen: Most Heavily Sprayed Foods

As consumers become more aware of the dangers associated with chemical pesticides and preservatives in produce, many are trying to adopt a more organic way of eating. While you may not be ready to eat exclusively organic, the next best option is to avoid those fruits and vegetables that are sprayed with pesticides more heavily than others. To help you make the healthiest shopping decisions, we’ve compiled this list of the most pesticide-contaminated foods (based on recent reports from the Environmental Working Group and TheDailyGreen):


Sprayed with multiple varieties of pesticides. Plus, their delicate skin makes it easy for chemicals to penetrate the skin.


Scrubbing and peeling can’t get all the pesticides off. The heavy waxing of apples also traps pesticides underneath.


One EWG report found 36 types of pesticides on strawberries. Out-of-season, imported strawberries are the most risky.

Grapes (especially imported varieties)

Another thin-skinned fruit, sprayed with 35 different pesticides.


Pesticides were found on 91% of the cherries tested in the EWG study.


Pesticides were found on 97% of the nectarines tested.


A pears delicate skin makes it difficult to scrub thoroughly and easy for chemicals to sink in.

Red Raspberries

Their fuzzy exterior makes it difficult to wash off any of the 39 pesticides used.

Sweet Bell Peppers

Thin skinned and heavily sprayed.


The thin skin of this vegetable is sprayed with 29 varieties of pesticides.

Spinach and Lettuces

Lettuces are frequently contaminated with what are considered the most potent pesticides used on food.


In addition to pesticides, potatoes are contaminated with fungicides.


Their soft skin is easily penetrated by contaminants.


Non-organic milk contains innumerable pesticides, antibiotics and hormones.


Of course, we don’t recommend organic meat, as meat should be avoided regardless. But it is good for consumers to know that animals are dosed with hormones and antibiotics and fed pesticide-rich grains before they are slaughtered.

Following is a brief list of a few foods that are less likely to be heavily contaminated by pesticides:

  • Onions
  • Avocados
  • Sweet Corn (Frozen)
  • Pineapples
  • Mango
  • Asparagus
  • Sweet Peas (Frozen)
  • Kiwi Fruit
  • Bananas
  • Cabbage
  • Broccoli
  • Papaya

The most important thing is to eat a variety of fruits and vegetables, eating organic whenever possible. Hopefully these lists can help you save money while still looking out for your well-being.