Strawberries are contaminated with pesticides, poisonous gases -- even after it's picked and washed


Just because it's fruit, doesn't mean it's healthy.

Every year, over 3 billion pounds of strawberries are produced by the United States, constituting a nearly 3 billion dollar business. California is responsible for producing over 90% of the strawberry crop in America, while Florida grows the second most amount. While experts believe the production and consumption of strawberries will continue to grow each year, many are warning of its dangers.

Once again, strawberries have topped the "Dirty Dozen" list -- they are hailed as the fruit "most likely to be contaminated with pesticide residues even after they are picked, rinsed in the field and washed before eating", according to the Environmental Working Group (EWG). Other produce listed includes spinach, nectarines, apples and potatoes.

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The takeaways from the EWG are quite apparent.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture found that strawberries contained nearly 8 pesticides per sample. That's more than any other sample of produce, which contained 2.3 pesticides per sample, in comparison. Scientists found that nearly 30% of strawberries had residues of more than 10 pesticides, with the "dirtiest" linked to 21 different pesticides.

If that doesn't deter you enough to eat organic strawberries, scientists found traces of poisonous gas on strawberries as well. These included mostly Carbendazim and Bifenthrin, which was found on 33% of the strawberry samples. These harmful chemicals have been associated with a variety of health issues, including cancer, developmental and reproductive damage, and neurological problems.

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In light of this report, nutritionists are advising their clients to "shop smart".

"I believe that this is an important source of information," said Corinne Bush to CNN. Consequently, the EWG says that buyers should look for organic produce.

"Eating plenty of fruits and vegetables is essential no matter how they're grown, but for the items with the heaviest pesticide loads, we urge shoppers to buy organic. If you can't buy organic, the Shopper's Guide will steer you to conventionally grown produce that is the lowest in pesticides," said EWG analyst Sonya Lunder.

You can find more information on the report here.

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