This Go-To Green Has The Most Pesticides By Weight, Says New Report
It's no secret that fruits and vegetables are an essential part of a nutritious diet. But what happens when the healthy foods we're eating have hidden secrets of their own? Take spinach for example—this nutrient-dense leafy green can actually be super high in pesticides, according to a new report from the Environmental Working Group (EWG).
It's the job of the EWG to help reveal any hidden truths about our favorite produce in their yearly Dirty Dozen report. You can find the full list here, along with the Clean 15, but for now allow us to get into the spinach of it all.
What the EWG learned about spinach.
According to the report, "On average, spinach samples had 1.8 times as much pesticide residue by weight as any other crop tested." Along with strawberries, apples, cherries, nectarines, and grapes, 90% of the spinach samples tested positive for residues of two or more pesticides. And all of this comes after the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) washed and peeled the produce.
So, does this mean I should quit eating spinach?
Before you go and boycott spinach, let us first remind you that the leafy green is rich in dietary fiber, antioxidants, iron, magnesium, and more, registered dietitian Maggie Moon, M.S., R.D., previously told us. In other words, spinach still has plenty of positive health benefits—and it's mild and versatile, to boot.
The goal of the report is not to dissuade you from eating spinach altogether (or any of the other fruits and veggies on the Dirty Dozen list) but simply "to educate the public about fruits and vegetables with the highest and lowest pesticide residues so consumers can make the best decisions for their families," the EWG states in their 2022 shopping guide.
For example: If cabbage or frozen sweet peas (both of which made their way onto the Clean 15 list) are available and affordable for you, you may decide to purchase one of them over your go-to spinach. But if spinach is the only green option, or the more accessible one, then it's still a healthful choice.
Being informed about the pesticide levels in certain types of produce, including your go-to spinach, can be helpful when making food buying decisions. However, regardless of the outcome, eating fruits and vegetables that are accessible and available to you is the most important—full stop.
Abby Moore is an editorial operations manager at mindbodygreen. She earned a B.A. in Journalism from The University of Texas at Austin and has previously written for Tribeza magazine. She has covered topics ranging from regenerative agriculture to celebrity entrepreneurship. Moore worked on the copywriting and marketing team at Siete Family Foods before moving to New York.