By Mike Pomranz
Updated February 19, 2016
Gabor Izso

The assumption is that when you buy organic fruits and vegetables that those pieces of produce will be free from pesticides. But according to numbers recently released by the USDA, these chemicals are still finding their way onto crops foods somehow.

The results of a 2014 survey released by the USDA earlier this year showed that 21 percent of produce labeled as “organic” contained residues of pesticides. And that’s not including organic-approved pesticides; these are specifically chemicals that aren’t supposed to be there.

So what gives? The common explanations appear to be unintended spray drift from nearby farms (or even the same farm if they grow both organic and non-organic crops) and cross-contamination in bins where evil pesticide covered items roll around with organic ones. However, as the site Pacific Standard suggests, there’s also the slightly more devious possibility that some items might be called organic when they actually are not.

Still, farmers don’t have to be that directly underhanded. Pacific Standard also points out that some organic farmers may actually be happy to get some spray drift from their non-organic neighbors because it helps keep their crops pest-free while also allowing them to keep their organic label.

All this isn’t intended to undermine the value of organic crops; it simply presents an unspoken truth that an organic label unfortunately doesn’t guarantee pesticide-free produce. For that, you have to figure out if your fruits have been hanging out with the wrong crowd while you weren’t looking.