Pesticide residue is a real concern. But do you know which fruits and vegetables have the highest residue? It’s important to know so you can make substitutions or avoid them.

When shopping, choose organic produce whenever possible.  If you must buy produce with pesticides, wash them with fruit and vegetable wash which is available commercially or make your own.  Washing them and then rinsing them will remove some of the residues.  For apples and other fruits which may also have been waxed, using a fruit and veggie brush to scrub them with the vegetable/fruit wash will help to remove the wax as well.

Peeling foods, such as apples and potatoes, will eliminate much of the pesticide residue.  If you do peel, don’t toss the peels into your compost pile as it can contaminate it as well.  Peeling doesn’t guarantee residual-free produce in all cases, so wash and then peel for the best results.

Easy steps to flash freezing and storing fruits and vegetables

Growing methods change, so the list is always changing. The only way to be sure your produce is pesticide-free is to buy certified organic produce.

Pesticide Residue – Fruits & Vegetables
Produce with Highest Levels of Pesticide Residues

  • Apples
  • Apricots
  • Bell Peppers (Green and Red)
  • Cantaloupe (Mexico)
  • Carrots
  • Celery
  • Cherries (US)
  • Collard Greens
  • Cucumbers
  • Grapes (Chile)
  • Green Beans
  • Kale
  • Lettuce
  • Mushrooms
  • Oranges
  • Peaches (WORST!)
  • Pears
  • Potatoes (US)
  • Nectarines
  • Spinach
  • Strawberries
  • Winter Squash (US)
Produce with the Least Levels of Pesticide Residues:

  • Avocados
  • Bananas
  • Broccoli
  • Brussels Sprouts
  • Cabbage
  • Cauliflower
  • Corn
  • Eggplant
  • Grapes (US, Mexico)
  • Green Onions
  • Onions
  • Plums
  • Sweet Potatoes
  • Tomatoes
  • Watermelon

Sometimes canned or frozen fruit can be lower in pesticides than non-organic fresh. The washing and blanching done to prepare them can remove much of the pesticides.   According to the US-based National Food Processors Association, up to 80-90% of pesticide residue is eliminated in this process. But, canned fruit is likely to be exposed to Bisphenol A (BPA) in the can’s lining. Frozen is stored in plastic bags.

Shopping with this list in mind will help keep pesticides out of your family’s home.

Information Sources:
Consumers Union
Environmental Working Group
U.S. Food and Drug Administration
San Diego Earth Times
Environmental Protection Agency
Food Quality Protection Act