The strawberry has a dirty reputation - WBRC FOX6 News - Birmingham, AL

A customer chooses a basket of strawberries at a farmers market

Researchers ranked pesticide contamination in dozens of fruits and vegetables. The alternative to consuming conventional produce is consuming organic produce, or no produce at all.

Third on the list are pineapples followed by cabbage, onions, frozen sweet peas, papayas, asparagus, mangoes, eggplants, honeydews, kiwis, cantaloupes, cauliflower and broccoli. And, on average, spinach samples had 1.8 times as much pesticide residue by weight than any other crop.

Sonya Lunder, a senior analyst at EWG, said the point of the annual guide is to equip consumers with the knowledge and information they need to make the best purchases for their families - especially if they are trying to avoid pesticide residues in their foods.

Can rinsing your produce with water help get rid of pesticide residues? Yes. Further, a study in the Journal of Food and Chemical Toxicology found that if half of Americans increased their consumption of fruits and vegetables by a single serving each day, 20,000 cancer cases could be prevented annually.

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Strawberries top the "Dirty Dozen" list for pesticide contamination.

The EWG named the same produce items in its "Dirty Dozen" list this year as it did last year, although they were in a slightly different order.

The analysis found strawberries and spinach to contain the most - one-third of all conventional strawberry samples contained 10 or more pesticides and 97 percent of conventional spinach samples contained pesticide residues - and avocados and sweet corn to contain the least.

Some produce groups call the EWG's guide misleading and counterproductive to efforts encouraging Americans to eat more fruits and vegetables.

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"Any report telling people not to eat fresh produce is beyond silly and potentially very harmful advice", said USApple President and CEO Jim Bair.

He encourages consumers to continue educating themselves about food safety and consult the Safe Fruits and Veggies website from the Alliance for Food and Farming, which represents both organic and conventional farmers. With the Guide, you can have the health benefits of a diet rich in fruits and vegetables while limiting your exposure to pesticides.

Spinach samples had, on average, nearly twice as much pesticide residue by weight compared to any other crop. With EWG's 2018 Shopper's Guide to Pesticides in Produce™, you can choose healthy produce while minimizing unwanted doses of multiple toxic pesticides.

Topping the Clean Fifteen list is avocados and sweet corn, with less than one percent of samples showing traces of detectable pesticides.

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The organization cautions that a small portion of sweet corn, papaya and summer squash sold in the United States is produced from genetically modified seeds.

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