Strawberry Tops “Dirty Dozen” List

Category: Lifestyle/Entertainment


Unlocking Word Meanings

Read the following words/expressions found in today’s article.

  1. positive / ˈpɒz ɪ tɪv / (adj) – possessing or containing something

    The cosmetic product was found positive for harmful chemicals.

  2. concentration / ˌkɒn sənˈtreɪ ʃən / (n) – the amount of a chemical substance

    Most snacks contain high concentrations of sodium.

  3. provoke / prəˈvoʊk / (v) – to produce a certain emotion

    The doctor’s explanation of the risks involved in surgery provoked fear in his patient.

  4. deter / dɪˈtɜr / (v) – to discourage an action

    The video is meant to deter people from eating unhealthy food.

  5. make up for / meɪk ʌp fɔr / (idiom) – to replace something

    Exercising is not enough to make up for an unhealthy diet.


Read the text below.

Environmental organization Environmental Working Group (EWG) places strawberry at the top of its Dirty Dozen list for the second straight year.

EWG’s Dirty Dozen is an annual list of fruits and vegetables with the highest pesticide levels. Aside from strawberries, spinach, apples, peaches, tomatoes, and grapes are some fruits and vegetables included in this year’s list.

The group analyzed data gathered by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and found that 70% of samples of 48 fruits and vegetables had traces of pesticides. The USDA discovered a total of 178 pesticides in more than 35,000 samples. Despite being washed and peeled, the food still contained chemicals. In a test, one strawberry was found positive for 20 different pesticides.

According to the EWG, some fruits and vegetables, such as avocados and corn, have stronger resistance against pesticides because they have a strong protective covering. Strawberries, however, do not have a protective layer that can shield them from chemicals. As a result, strawberries tend to contain higher concentrations of pesticide.

Along with the Dirty Dozen, the EWG released the Clean Fifteen, an annual list of fruits and vegetables that are least likely to contain pesticides.  Some items that made it to this year’s list include sweet corn, avocados, pineapples, cabbage, and onions.

Not everyone is happy with EWG’s Dirty Dozen list. One criticism against it is that it provokes fear, which deters people from eating fruits and vegetables. As most people do not consume enough fruits and vegetables, having such fear will only discourage them further. In its defense, the EWG argued that the nutrients found in fruits and vegetables would make up for the risks involved in pesticide exposure.

Viewpoint Discussion

Enjoy a discussion with your tutor.

Discussion A

• Do you think people would still eat strawberries after finding out that it is at the top of the Dirty Dozen list? Why or why not?
• Do you agree that the nutrients in fruits and vegetables can make up for the risks involved in pesticide exposure? Why or why not?

Discussion B

• What do you think is the importance of publishing lists like the Dirty Dozen and Clean Fifteen?
• Aside from fruits, what other food groups will benefit from this type of list?