Are You Bringing Home Pesticides With Your Produce?
Sure, loading up fresh produce can improve your health, but many conventionally grown fruits and vegetables also harbor potentially harmful pesticides. Recently the Environmental Working Group released its Dirty Dozen—a list of the foods with the highest amounts of pesticide residue—and the Clean 15—the cleanest conventional produce as part of its annual Shopper's Guide to Pesticides in Produce.
A number of studies have linked pesticides to health issues including cancer, brain and nervous system toxicity, and skin irritation. To reduce your exposure to these toxic chemicals, EWG recommends using the Shopper's Guide to determine which foods you should avoid or buy organic (the Dirty Dozen) and which conventionally grown fruits and veggies are safest (the Clean 15).
“Our shopper’s guide to pesticides in produce gives consumers easy, affordable ways to eat a diet rich in fruits and vegetables while avoiding most of the bug killers, fungicides and other chemicals in produce and other foods,” said EWG president Ken Cook in a press release.
This year apples top the list of the most contaminated fruit. In fact, EWG found that 98 percent of conventional apples have detectable levels of pesticides. Likewise, domestic blueberries tested positive for 42 different pesticide residues, while lettuce samples carried 78, and grapes contained 64 different chemicals. EWG also expanded its list beyond 12 foods in 2012 to highlight green beans and leafy greens (think kale and collard greens), which didn't meet traditional Dirty Dozen criteria, but are commonly tainted with highly toxic organophosphate insecticides.
"Organophosphate pesticides are of special concern since they are associated with neurodevelopmental effects in children,” said EWG toxicologist Johanna Congleton in a press release. “Infants in particular should avoid exposure to these pesticides since they are more susceptible to the effects of chemical insult than adults."
Additionally the group made special note of harmful chemicals in baby food, which the USDA has just recently begun to test. EWG highlighted pears and green beans as a couple of pesticide-prone baby foods to avoid or buy organic.
On the bright side, EWG identified produce that were least likely to test positive for pesticides, with onions and sweet corn anchoring the list. They also found that more than 90 percent of asparagus, cabbage, eggplant, sweet peas and sweet potato samples contained only one or fewer pesticides, so we can indulge in these conventional fruits and veggies without fear of harmful chemicals.
Check out the complete list below, or visit ewg.org for more information.
Dirty Dozen Plus
3. Sweet bell peppers
6. Nectarines (imported)
11. Blueberries (domestic)
Plus: Green beans and leafy greens
2. Sweet Corn
6. Sweet Peas
11. Cantaloupe (domestic)
12. Sweet potatoes
Read More: 7 Reasons to Go Organic
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