The health effects from consuming pesticides is largely unknown.
Rounding out the "dirty dozen" are nectarines, apples, grapes, peaches, cherries, pears, tomatoes, celery, potatoes and hot peppers.
What is so surprising about kale being number three on the Dirty Dozen list?
Because the items on the clean list have low pesticide residue, shoppers can buy standard items, while organic might be a better option for produce on the dirty dozen list.
Researchers also found that avocado, onion, sweet corn and pineapple have the least amount of pesticide residue.
Even as kale's popularity surged, it hasn't been included in the USDA's regular produce tests since 2009, when it ranked eighth on EWG's list, according to the group, which found pesticide residues on almost 70 percent of conventionally grown produce in the U.S. The EWG recommends buying organic produce whenever you can, and EWG research analyst Carla Burns additionally notes that "the health benefits of a diet rich in fruits and vegetables outweigh the risks of pesticide exposure".
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The annual EWG list ranks popular fruits and vegetables based on levels of contamination.
The watchdog group publishes its "Dirty Dozen" list annually, in which it ranks the 12 produce items that contain the highest amount of pesticide residues. Some of the kale samples contained as many as 18 different chemicals.
A different organization, The Alliance for Food and Farming, features a pesticide calculator where you can see exactly how your food is affected by pesticides. After questions from the host, she finally said that eating more fruits and vegetables is the overall goal.
Seven percent of fruit and 11 percent of vegetables sold in the U.S.in 2018 were organic, according to the consumer data company Nielsen, which also found that 15 percent of frozen fruit and 5 percent of vegetables sold were organic.
While she is encouraged that the USDA and FDA conduct such testing for pesticides, she and others at EWG hope more people become educated about the prevalence of pesticide residue on their food, and the potential dangers of exposure to these chemicals.
'We don't want the message to be that fruits and vegetables cause cancer, ' Leiba told DailyMail.com. The American Academy of Pediatrics acknowledges there are reasons to be concerned about the exposure of developing children to pesticides, especially before birth. Europe has prohibited its use since 2009.
The EWG report comes amid a multitude of studies that have found that eating organic food lowers several health risks. Kale and spinach samples had, on average, 1.1 to 1.8 times as much pesticide residue by weight than any other crop, says the EWG.