With how much fruit, veggies, and other goods are produced in the US every day, it’s important to be aware of risks associated in the process of getting the food into our hands. Unfortunately, with such a high demand, many times our fruits and veggies are planted in large, dirty fields that are contaminated with unhealthy, and potentially dangerous, cancer-causing chemicals.
One of the biggest topics of discussion lately seem to be about pesticides and the debate of going all organic, not at all, or somewhere in between. While the effects of pesticides are still largely unknown, long-term pesticide exposure has been linked to diseases such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s, as well as breast, prostate, ovarian, and other types of cancer.
Although washing your produce helps to eliminate a portion of dirt,bacteria, and some of the pesticides, according to Consumer Reports, there isn’t always a way to remove 100% of the pesticide residue. In fact, in some cases, pesticides are systemic, growing into the plant’s root system and developing in the fruit or veggies (good luck washing that one away)! On top of that, the produce tested by the USDA measures pesticide residues after produce has been rinsed in cold running water and/or inedible peels and rinds are removed, giving an extremely accurate representation of the pesticides you may see in your foods.
Every year, The Environmental Working Group (EWG) creates an analyzed list of USDA tested produce containing the most and least amount of pesticides in order to assist you in the decision of which fruits and vegetables you may want to consider buying organic. EWG’s analysis of tests by the U.S. Department of Agriculture found that nearly 70 percent of samples of 48 types of conventionally grown produce were contaminated with pesticide residues. The list of Dirty Dozen includes the produce with some of the most amount of pesticides, AKA something you may want put more of an emphasis to go organic. On the other hand, the Clean Fifteen is some of the least amount of pesticide residue, AKA you may be on a bit of the safe side to go non-organic. Check the full list below, and be sure to download your pocket size copy for your next grocery store visit!
- Sweet Bell Peppers
- More than 98 percent of samples of strawberries, spinach, peaches, nectarines, cherries and apples tested positive for residue of at least one pesticide.
- A single sample of strawberries showed 20 different pesticides.
- Spinach samples had, on average, twice as much pesticide residue by weight than any other crop.
- Sweet Corn
- Sweet Peas
- Avocados and sweet corn were the cleanest: only 1 percent of samples showed any detectable pesticides.
- More than 80 percent of pineapples, papayas, asparagus, onions and cabbage had no pesticide residues.
- No single fruit sample from the Clean Fifteen tested positive for more than four types of pesticides.
- Multiple pesticide residues are extremely rare on Clean Fifteen vegetables. Only 5 percent of Clean Fifteen vegetable samples had two or more pesticides.