Kale might be the trendy vegetable these days, but an annual study by a nonprofit environmental group warns it might be less healthy than you think.
Kale ranked third on the Environmental Working Group’s list of fruits and vegetables with the most pesticide residues. That was a big jump for the leafy green, which hasn’t appeared at all on the list since 2009.
“More than 92% of kale samples had two or more pesticide residues detected, and a single sample could contain up to 18 different residues,” the report read.
Strawberries and spinach took the number one and two spots, respectively. 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.
The so-called “dirty dozen” looks at pesticide levels on nearly 41,000 fruits and vegetables that are tested by the Food and Drug Administration and the United States Department of Agriculture. Unlike other pesticide-focused studies, this one does not search for a specific kind, such as the weed killer used in Roundup.
Pesticides are regularly used in agriculture, of course, and food service companies say the levels are far below those that have been found to be unsafe for human consumption.
Other fruits and vegetables on the dirty dozen included apples, grapes, potatoes, and celery.
Not all fruits and veggies were denigrated, however. The EWG also put out its “Clean 15” list with the produce having the lowest levels of pesticide residue. Avocados topped that list, followed by sweet corn, pineapples, and frozen sweet peas.