Your Guide to Pesticides

Fresh-produce ~ Organic Definition


Finding Healthier Food

This Guide-to-Pesticides was created by analyzing the pesticide residue testing data from the US Department of Agriculture (U.S.D.A.).

And the Food and Drug Administration (F.D.A.) to come up with rankings for these popular fresh fruits and vegetables.

If you choose 5 servings of fruits and vegetables a day from the "least-likely-list" rather than the "most-likely-list".

You can lower the volume of pesticides you consume daily by approximately 92 percent.

Consuming 5 servings of fruits and vegetables from the 12 "most" contaminated.

Would cause you to ingest an average of 14 different pesticides a day.

Choosing 5 servings from the 15 "least" contaminated fresh-produce list and you'll ingest fewer than 2 pesticides per day.

The Most Likely







Sweet Bell peppers,

Imported Nectarines,



Cherry tomatoes and hot peppers.

Every sample of imported nectarines tested positive for pesticides.

Followed by apples (97.8 percent) and imported plums (97.2 percent).

92 percent of apples contained 2 or more pesticide residues.

Followed by imported nectarines (90.8 percent) and peaches (85.6 percent).

Imported grapes had 14 pesticides detected on a single sample.

Strawberries and domestic grapes both had 13 different pesticides detected on a single sample.

Peaches have been treated with more pesticides than any other produce.

Registering combinations of up to 57 different chemicals.

Apples were next, with 56 pesticides and raspberries with 51.

Celery, spinach, sweet bell peppers, potatoes, lettuce and greens (kale and collards) are the fresh-produce most likely to retain pesticide contamination.

Some 96 percent of all celery samples tested positive for pesticides.

Followed by cilantro (92.9 percent) and potatoes (91.4 percent).

Close to 90 percent of celery samples contained multiple pesticides.

Followed by cilantro (70.1 percent).

And sweet bell peppers (69.4 percent).

A single celery sample was contaminated with 13 different chemicals.

Followed by a single sample of sweet bell peppers (11), and greens (10).

Hot peppers had been treated with as many as 97 pesticides.

Followed by cucumbers (68) and greens (66).

The Least Likely

The vegetables least likely to test positive for pesticides are;


Sweet corn,



Sweet peas (frozen, since they’re more readily available),



Sweet potatoes (Yams) and mushrooms.

Asparagus, sweet corn and onions had no detectable pesticide residues on 90 percent or more of samples.

More than four-fifths of cabbage samples (81.8 percent) had no detectible pesticides.

Followed by sweet peas (77.1 percent) and eggplant (75.4 percent).

Multiple pesticide residues are extremely rare on vegetables low in overall contamination.

No samples of onions and corn had more than one pesticide.

Less than 6 percent of sweet potato samples had multiple pesticides.

Of the low-pesticide vegetables, no single sample had more than 5 different chemicals.

The fruits least likely to test positive for pesticide residues are;




Domestic Cantaloupe,



Watermelon and grapefruit.

Fewer than 10 percent of pineapple, mango, and avocado samples showed detectable pesticides.

And fewer than one percent of samples had more than one pesticide residue.

Nearly 55 percent of grapefruit had detectable pesticides.

But only 17.5 percent of samples contained more than one residue.

Watermelon had residues on 28.1 percent of samples.

And 9.6 percent had multiple pesticide residues.


Our Guide-to-Pesticides ranks pesticide contamination for 53 types of fresh-produce.

Based on an analysis of 51,000 tests for pesticides on these foods.

Conducted from 2000 to 2009 by the U.S.D.A. and the F.D.A.

Nearly all the studies on which the fresh-produce guide is based, tested produce "after" it had been rinsed or peeled.

This approach best captures the uncertainties of the risks of pesticide exposure.

And gives shoppers confidence that when they follow the guide.

They are buying fresh-produce with consistently lower overall levels of pesticide contamination.

The Guide-to-Pesticides

53 types of fresh-produce.

The lower the number, the more the pesticides.

1. Apples

2. Celery

3. Strawberries

4. Peaches

5. Spinach

6. Nectarines - imported

7. Grapes - imported

8. Sweet bell peppers

9. Potatoes

10. Blueberries - domestic

11. Lettuce

12. Kale/collard greens

13. Cilantro

14. Cucumbers

15. Grapes - domestic

16. Cherries

17. Pears

18. Nectarines - domestic

19. Hot peppers

20. Green beans - domestic

21. Carrots

22. Plums - imported

23. Blueberries - imported

24. Raspberries

25. Green beans - imported

26. Summer squash

27. Oranges

28. Broccoli

29. Green onions

30. Bananas

31. Cantaloupe - imported

32. Honeydew melon

33. Cauliflower

34. Tomatoes

35. Papaya

36. Cranberries

37. Plums - domestic

38. Winter squash

39. Mushrooms

40. Grapefruit

41. Sweet potatoes

42. Watermelon

43. Cabbage

44. Kiwi

45. Cantaloupe - domestic

46. Eggplant

47. Mangoes

48. Sweet peas - frozen

49. Asparagus

50. Avocado

51. Pineapples

52. Sweet Corn

53. Onions

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