By Grant Butler

The Oregonian (TNS)

Thinking of digging into a kale salad at lunch today? You may want to think twice. According to the health advocacy organization the Environmental Working Group, the popular leafy green has higher pesticide residue than almost all produce that’s found at the grocery store.

In its annual Dirty Dozen list, which was released Wednesday, kale ranks third (after strawberries and spinach) as the produce item that shoppers should avoid.

In the most-recent round of testing by the United States Department of Agriculture, more than 92 percent of conventionally grown kale samples had at least two or more pesticide residues. Some samples contained residues from as many as 18 different pesticides.

The last time kale was on the Dirty Dozen list was in 2009, when it ranked eighth.

According to the group’s analysis, almost 70 percent of the conventionally grown produce sold in the U.S. comes with pesticide residues. Here’s this year’s Dirty Dozen list: strawberries, spinach, kale, nectarines, apples, grapes, peaches, cherries, pears, tomatoes, celery and potatoes.

Not everyone is a fan of the Environmental Working Group’s list. Teresa Thorne, of the Alliance for Food and Farming, said Wednesday there were ways to promote organic produce without disparaging more accessible forms of fruit and vegetables.