The average American eats almost 8 pounds of strawberries every year, and this sweet, beloved fruit now has the dubious “honor” of topping the Environmental Working Group‘s “Dirty Dozen” list for 2016. Although apples held the title for five consecutive years, strawberries are now found to be the most contaminated type of produce with an average of 5.75 different pesticides on each sample taken during a five year study (as compared to 1.74 pesticides per sample for all other fruits and veggies tested). Among the pesticides used were suspected carcinogens and substances banned in Europe for their hormone-disrupting qualities. A 2014 study of strawberries alone found that 98% of samples had detectable residues of at least one pesticide; 40%, however, tested positive for residues of 10 or more pesticides, so we and the EWG strongly suggest you wait for the organic berries to arrive at the market or grocery store. Other fruits and veggies on the “Dirty Dozen” list included apples, nectarines, peaches, celery, grapes, cherries, spinach, tomatoes, sweet bell peppers, cherry tomatoes, and cucumbers. The “Clean Fifteen” list, which includes avocados, sweet corn, pineapples, cabbage, frozen sweet peas, onions, asparagus, mangoes, papayas, kiwi, eggplant, honeydew melon, grapefruit, cantaloupe, and cauliflower, covers the types of produce that are least likely to have pesticide residues. However, the EWG noted that some sweet corn, papaya, and summer squash are genetically engineered, so you may want to purchase those types of produce in the organic section as well.

+ EWG’s 2016 Shopper’s Guide to Pesticides in Produce