In 2017, government testing found pesticide residues in 47% of British food, with many of these containing more than one pesticide. Non-organic food production routinely uses pesticides which can pollute the environment and make their way into our food chain.


Every year, the Environmental Working Group release their ‘Shopper’s Guide to Pesticides in Produce’ to help you shop smarter and avoid fruits and vegetables most likely to be laden with pesticides.




The EWG’s ‘Clean Fifteen’ and ‘Dirty Dozen’ is a helpful guide that identifies those foods that have the most and least pesticide residues. It can help you identify which fruit and veg you should prioritise organic and those where the conventionally farmed version may not be quite so bad.


In 2020, for the fifth year in a row, strawberries were found to contain the highest levels of pesticide residues along with a host of other healthy favourites. The EWG is an American organisation and so the information gathered relates to American produce, however conventional British farming methods do not differ greatly.


In general, we recommend choosing organic produce wherever possible. However, we do recognise, however, that organic produce is not always readily available and can cost substantially more, so which foods should you prioritise buying organic?




  1. Strawberries
  2. Spinach
  3. Kale
  4. Nectarines
  5. Apples
  6. Grapes
  7. Peaches
  8. Cherries
  9. Pears
  10. Tomatoes
  11. Celery
  12. Potatoes


‘But can’t I just give them a good wash?’ you might be thinking. It is often claimed that using water with vinegar in, or a saltwater solution, can help remove some pesticides but there’s no guarantee that all residues will be removed.


On the upside, here is the 2020 list of produce least covered with pesticide residues:




  1. Avocados
  2. Sweet corn
  3. Pineapple
  4. Onions
  5. Papaya
  6. Sweet Peas (Frozen)
  7. Eggplant
  8. Asparagus
  9. Cauliflower
  10. Cantaloupes
  11. Broccoli
  12. Mushrooms
  13. Cabbage
  14. Honeydew Melon
  15. Kiwi


This guide just focusses on fruit and vegetables and it doesn’t cover animal produce like eggs and meat, which we would always advise buying organic, or at least free range and traditionally reared. Buying organic is a choice you make not only for your health, but also for the welfare of animals and the future of the environment.


To find out more about the benefits of switching to organic, read our post on 5 Reasons To Eat Organic.


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