These are the fruits and vegetables that you must buy ORGANIC if you want to avoid the exposure to pesticides which are really bad for your overall health.
1. Apples: more than 40 different pesticides have been detected on apples, because fungus and insect threats prompt farmers to spray various chemicals on their orchards. Not surprisingly, pesticide residue is also found in apple juice and apple sauce, making all apple products smart foods to buy organic.
2. Celery: USDA tests have found more than 60 different pesticides on celery. It's a good one to commit to memory, since it doesn't fit the three main categories of foods with the highest pesticide residue (tree fruits, berries and leafy greens).
3. Strawberries: Strawberries are always on the list of dirty dozen foods, in part because fungus prompts farmers to spray, and pesticide residue remains on berries sold at market. Nearly 60 different pesticides have been found on strawberries, though fewer are found on frozen strawberries.
4. Peaches: More than 60 pesticides have been found on peaches, and nearly as many in single-serving packs, but far fewer in canned peaches.
5. Spinach: Leading the leafy green pesticide residue category is spinach, with nearly 50 different pesticides. (While frozen spinach has nearly as many, canned has had fewer detected pesticides.)
6. Nectarines (Imported): Nectarines, at least imported ones, are among the most highly contaminated tree fruits. Domestic nectarines don't test with as much pesticide residue, but overall 33 pesticides have been detected on nectarines.
7. Grapes (Imported): Another perennial entrant on the dirty dozen list, imported grapes can have more than 30 pesticides. Raisins, not surprisingly, also have high pesticide residue tests. Makes you wonder about wine, eh?
8. Sweet Bell Peppers: Sweet bell pepper, in all of its colorful varieties has nearly 50 different pesticides that have been detected.
9. Potatoes: America's favorite vegetable has, unfortunately, more than 35 pesticides have been detected on potatoes in USDA testing. Sweet potatoes offer a delicious alternative with less chance of pesticide residue.
10. Blueberries: Blueberries usually make the dirty dozen list, since more than 50 pesticides have been detected as residue on them. Frozen blueberries have proved somewhat less contaminated. Unfortunately, obvious alternatives like cranberries and cherries, while they may not make the dirty dozen list this year, are often contaminated themselves. For breakfast cereal, if you can't find blueberries, consider topping with bananas.
11. Lettuce: Joining spinach in the leafy greens category, lettuce makes the list of dirty dozen foods with the most pesticides. More than 50 pesticides have been identified on lettuce.
12. Kale (Tie): A super-food, traditionally kale is known as a hardier vegetable that rarely suffers from pests and disease, but it was found to have high amounts of pesticide residue when tested in each of the past two years. Can't find organic kale? Safer alternatives include cabbage, asparagus and broccoli. Dandelion greens also make a nutritious alternative.