With all of the different pesticides used to grow fruits and vegetables today you may wonder if it’s safe to eat any non-organic produce at all. The answer is yes, you should still be eating five servings of fruits and vegetables every day, whether they are all organic or not. Of course organic produce is better, but for many people the price difference is too great so they stick to regular produce, which is understandable.
A diet rich in fruits and vegetables outweighs the negative consequences of pesticide exposure. With that being said, there are some fruits and vegetables that are low in toxic pesticides and others that are much higher. If you can only afford to buy some organic produce this guide will help you shop wisely, so that you can avoid as much toxic residue as possible while still conserving your money.
The dirty dozen
The EWG (environmental working group) cleverly calls the 12 fruits and vegetables listed below the “dirty dozen” due to their high levels of pesticides, when compared to other produce. If possible, purchase the following organic produce.
8. Sweet bell peppers
12. Kale/collard greens
The clean 15
This next group of 15 produce are known by the EWG as the “clean 15”. They are the lowest in toxic pesticides, so if you’re going to buy non-organic produce, these would be the ones to buy.
2. Sweet corn
6. Sweet peas
13. Sweet potatoes
Consuming foods from the clean 15 will lower your pesticide exposure a whopping 92% when compared with the dirty dozen. By choosing five fruits and vegetables a day from the clean 15 list you’ll consume fewer than two pesticides per day, whereas consuming five fruits and vegetables a day from the dirty dozen will cause you to ingest as many as 14 different pesticides every day.
What is this information based on?
This information is based on an analysis of 51,000 tests for pesticides conducted from 2001-2009 by the USDA and the FDA on 53 popular fruits and vegetables. The produce in the tests were rinsed and peeled so that they would simulate the conditions in which they are normally consumed.
How bad are pesticides?
We don’t have enough data on long-term pesticide exposure on humans, but it is likely that Americans are polluted with far more pesticides than current studies report. Not surprisingly, pesticide manufacturers and the companies that use the pesticides claim there is no link between pesticide exposure and health risks. It’s this type of outlandish claim that should make Americans question exactly how dangerous pesticides are and the possible long-term health effects of them. Pesticides are designed to kill living organisms. With that in mind we should all make an effort to purchase, at least the more toxic produce, in the organic section.