Food & Recipes

Kale Has Been Added To The ‘Dirty Dozen’ List

Yikes! It ranks behind strawberries and spinach.

Healthy eaters, beware. A new study has named kale as one of the most pesticide-contaminated foods you can buy at the grocery store.

Although the vegetable has a reputation for being a nutritious super-food, chock full of vitamin and minerals, an average bunch of kale also reportedly contains a significant amount of pesticide residue as well. The nonprofit Environmental Working Group (EWG), which puts out the Dirty Dozen list as part of an annual Shoppers Guide to Pesticides in Produce, found that kale ranks behind only strawberries and spinach when it comes to the amount of pesticide covering it.


“We were surprised kale had so many pesticides on it,” EWG toxicologist Alexis Temkin, Ph.D., said in a release.”But the test results were unequivocal.”

After studying the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s test data, the EWG found that “more than 92 percent of conventionally grown kale samples had at least two or more pesticide residues,” the release said. Even more concerning, some kale samples apparently had up to as many as 18 different pesticides on them.

Check out the EWG’s video Spotlight on Kale:

The other fruits and vegetables on the EWG’s Dirty Dozen list for 2019 include nectarines, apples, grapes, peaches, cherries, pears, tomatoes, celery and potatoes.

In case you’re tempted to immediately stop buying your favorite green veggie, hold off — there may be another solution. The EWG recommends that people simply choose organic produce instead.

The World Health Organization has linked the consumption of pesticide residue to health risks like cancer and reproduction problems. And a recent study showed that eating an all-organic diet for just shy of a week significantly reduced the amount of pesticides in a person’s body.

kale photo
Getty Images | John Moore

However, if you can’t find or afford organic options, that doesn’t mean you should quit eating greens altogether. The EWG still believes that eating conventionally grown vegetables and fruits is better than eating none at all.

“The health benefits of a diet rich in fruits and vegetables outweigh the risks of pesticide exposure,” said EWG research analyst Carla Burns.

So, don’t be afraid to keep eating your greens — just do it mindfully, and consider buying organic.