Picture of Kale April 7, 2022


When it comes to nutritional benefits, it doesn’t get much better than dark leafy greens like kale, spinach, collard and mustard greens. But unfortunately, these very safe and healthy vegetables have made it to a so-called “dirty dozen” list of the most pesticide laden produce items. Sadly, this list has potential to negatively impact consumption of fruit and vegetables, like spinach and kale, despite the fact the list has been repeatedly discredited by the scientific community and peer reviewed studies.

According to an annual report conducted by the U.S. Food and Agriculture Department (USDA), overall pesticide residues found on spinach and kale (like all fruits and vegetables produced in the U.S.) are well below safety limits established by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

Just how small are any pesticide residues found on spinach and kale? So small that a child could consume over 300 servings of spinach and a whopping 7,000 servings of kale in one day without any effect — even if these items had the highest pesticide residue ever recorded by the USDA.

You can learn more about how small the pesticide residues that may be found on your favorite fruits and vegetables really are by using this Pesticide Residue Calculator created by toxicologists with the Personal Chemical Exposure Program at University of California, Riverside. More about the science behind this calculator is available here.

Health experts everywhere encourage people to eat as much spinach and kale as you’d like whether it is conventionally grown or organic. It’s a shame that anyone would label these products “dirty.” Especially when we consider that in January the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported that produce intake remains stagnant with only 10 percent of adults meeting the daily vegetable recommendations.

Peer-reviewed research indicates that scare-tactics like the “dirty dozen” list used by activist groups can make consumers, especially low-income-consumers, purchase fewer fruits and vegetables. Leafy greens – particularly dark leafy greens like spinach and kale – are well known for the nutritional content and low calories. You can learn much more about the many benefits and sensory characteristics of spinach, kale and other leafy greens items here.

California lettuce and leafy greens farmers and farmworkers work hard every day to produce the safest food possible for their own families and people around the world. They follow stringent state and federal regulations regarding the use of both conventional and organic pesticides and adhere to a set of food safety practices on the farm under the Leafy Greens Marketing Agreement food safety program.

Help spread the word about the health and safety of fruits and vegetables. An organization called the Alliance for Food and Farming makes it easy. Follow them on social media and use the hashtag #NoMoreDirtyDozen. To learn more about pesticides and produce, please visit www.safefruitsandveggies.com.