Concerned about pesticides? Thinking about going organic? If you are not ready for a 100% organic diet, then at least consider avoiding the most pesticide-laden foods from your diet. The Environmental Working Group has published a ‘dirty dozen’ list of the fruits and vegetables that you may want to consider avoiding.
We have included a partial list of some of our favourite fruits and vegetables below that taste much better without the toxic chemicals. And no, washing fruits and vegetables will not eliminate pesticides. The Food News reports that washing and peeling will cut down on pesticide exposures but it will not totally remove them. Best to simply avoid eating the top offenders.
The Pesticide Action Network UK found the five most common pesticides on non-organic apples were chlorpyrifos, diphenylamine, captan, carbendazim, and thiabendazole. All of these pesticides are toxic to humans and possibly carcinogenic, reports the Pesticide Action Network UK. Pollution in People explains that the most recent federal testing found 98% of apples have at least one pesticide contaminant.
Celery has no skin so the pesticides are absorbed directly into the vegetable. Celery is a vegetable that many people report as being able to actually ‘taste’ the pesticide residues. Considered to the fourth worst vegetable for absorbing pesticides, no amount of scrubbing will remove all the chemicals. Best to consume organic celery only.
The USA and Europe produce most of the world’s sweet cherry crop. The Organic Grocery Australia reports that over 90% of cherries contain pesticides and most cherries tested are contaminated with more than one pesticide. The Organic Consumer explains “…cherries from the US are three times more contaminated than their imported counterparts…” You might need to pass on this sweet treat if an organic option is not available.
The Environmental Working Group found that out of all the vegetables they tested, sweet bell peppers, celery, lettuce, spinach, and potatoes are the vegetables most likely to expose consumers to pesticides. The Organic Consumers Association advocates for growing as much of your own vegetables as possible. Growing your own food, reduces food miles (the distance food travels from farmer to plate), increases food security and eliminates toxic chemical residues on your food. Lettuce is a simple crop to grow in a small garden plot, greenhouse or even in a balcony container
Sweet, succulent summer peaches hide a host of deadly secrets. In fact, these summer favourites have the highest pesticide load of any fruit or vegetable. The Environmental Working Group found that peaches had the highest likelihood of multiple pesticides on a single sample — 86.6% had two or more pesticide residues — followed by nectarines (85.3%) and apples (82.3%).
Spinach is another vegetable that should be avoided if you can’t find an organic version. The best way to reduce your exposure to toxic pesticides is to eliminate consuming pesticides in the first place. Pollution in People reports, “It’s especially important to buy organically grown apples, bell peppers, celery, cherries, grapes, nectarines, peaches, pears, potatoes, raspberries, spinach, and strawberries”.
Strawberries are also one of the most pesticide-laden fruits on the market. They are a very soft skinned fruit and grow close to the ground making them susceptible to any pesticides used on the soil as their soft skin increases permeability. National Geographic’s’ Green Guide reports that strawberries are a crop that receives up to 500 pounds of pesticide per acre. The Organic Trade Association reports that more than 371 pesticides are approved for use on strawberries in the USA.
Sweet Bell Peppers
Red peppers may contain the three commonly used pesticides -Methamidophos ( a toxic, restricted use pesticide), Acephate (an acute toxic general use insecticide), and Endosulfans (a toxic insecticide). An Environmental Working Group study found that sweet bell peppers may contain an estimated 39 different types of pesticides.
Food News offers a free guide to Pesticide and Produce - a guide to the ‘dirty pesticide dozen’. Visit their website at: http://www.foodnews.org