A team of scientists, engineers, policy experts, lawyers and computer programmers calling themselves the Environmental Working Group has released its Shoppers' Guide to Pesticides. Forty-seven popular fruits and vegetables were ranked based on the EWG's analysis of 87,000 tests of the pesticide content of these products over a seven-year period by the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the FDA.
The seven were peaches leading the list, then apples, nectarines and strawberries, cherries, and imported grapes, and pears. Among these seven fruits:
* Nectarines had the highest percentage of samples test positive for pesticides (97.3 percent), followed by peaches (96.7 percent) and apples (94.1 percent).
* Peaches had the highest likelihood of multiple pesticides on a single sample - 87.0 percent had two or more pesticide residues -- followed by nectarines (85.3 percent) and apples (82.3 percent).
* Peaches and apples had the most pesticides detected on a single sample, with nine pesticides on a single sample, followed by strawberries and imported grapes where eight pesticides were found on a single sample of each fruit.
* Peaches had the most pesticides overall, with some combination of up to 53 pesticides found on the samples tested, followed by apples with 50 pesticides and strawberries with 38.
Sweet bell peppers, celery, kale, lettuce, and carrots are the vegetables most likely to expose consumers to pesticides. Among these five vegetables:
* Celery had the highest of percentage of samples test positive for pesticides (94.1 percent), followed by sweet bell peppers (81.5 percent) and carrots (82.3 percent).
* Celery also had the highest likelihood of multiple pesticides on a single vegetable (79.8 percent of samples), followed by sweet bell peppers (62.2 percent) and kale (53.1 percent).
* Sweet bell peppers had the most pesticides detected on a single sample (11 found on one sample), followed by kale (10 found on one sample), then lettuce and celery (both with nine).
* Sweet bell peppers were the vegetable with the most pesticides overall, with 64, followed by lettuce with 57 and carrots with 40.
The safest veggies, pesticide-wise, turned out to be onions, sweet corn, asparagus, sweet peas, cabbage, eggplant, broccoli, tomatoes, and sweet potatoes. Among fruits your best bets were avocados, pineapples, mangoes, kiwi, papayas, watermelon and grapefruit.