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Tag: Dirty Dozen in produce

The Dirty Dozen: Which produce have the most pesticides?

With all of the special pricing on berries I’ve been seeing in grocery stores lately, it seems like a good time to review the Dirty Dozen when it comes to pesticides on your produce. Choosing organically grown options of these most contaminated fruits and vegetables will substantially reduce your pesticide intake.

The Dirty Dozen Plus is compiled each year by the Environmental Working Group as one of the many public services they offer for conscious consumers. Pesticide exposure can have detrimental effects on your nervous system, and you never know what can tip you across your personal tolerance threshold and into hypersensitivity reactions or autoimmune responses. Our modern world is toxic; we’re lucky to have the independent analysis of the EWG looking out for our public health as the government does not.

The EWG found the most pesticide contamination the the following dozen plus fruits and veggies.

  • Apples
  • Celery
  • Sweet bell peppers
  • Peaches
  • Strawberries
  • Imported nectarines
  • Grapes
  • Spinach
  • Lettuce
  • Cucumbers
  • Domestic blueberries
  • Potatoes
  • Green beans
  • Kale/greens
  • Sweet corn (because unless it says “organic,” most domestic sweet corn is unlabeled GMO corn and unsafe to eat)

Get the whole 2012 EWG Shoppers Guide here.

Pesticides Linked to ADHD?

On Monday this week the American Academy of Pediatrics published a study linking high concentrations of pesticides in urine to ADHD (Attention-Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder).

The contaminated children may have eaten food treated with pesticides, breathed it in the air, or swallowed it in their drinking water. The study didn’t determine how they were exposed. While all children had some quantity of pesticides in their bodies, the ones with ADHD had the highest levels.

It is well known that many commonly used pesticides contain immuno-modulators, endocrine disruptors, and carcinogenic compounds. We live in a world full of these kinds of man-made dangers to our health. It’s good to see that science is finally examining the effects of these toxins on our bodies in a meaningful way.

It all has to do with an individual’s tolerance levels. How much pesticide can this particular child’s body tolerate before the physical effects begin to show up as ADHD? Another child may not be able to tolerate nearly as much as the norm, while still another can tolerate much more without effect. Isn’t this yet another example of how food and chemical sensitivities can manifest differently in different people?

You can lower yours and your child’s pesticide consumption by nearly four-fifths by avoiding the 12 most contaminated fruits and vegetables and instead eating the least contaminated produce, according to the Environmental Working Group’s calculations.

When you eat the 12 most contaminated fruits and vegetables, you’ll be exposed to an average of 10 pesticides a day. When you choose fresh produce from the 15 least contaminated fruits and vegetables, you’ll consume fewer than 2 pesticides per day.

The Shopper’s Guide to Pesticides ranks pesticide contamination for 50 popular fruits and vegetables based on an analysis of 96,000 tests for pesticides on these foods, conducted from 2000 to 2008 by the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the federal Food and Drug Administration.

Which Produce Should I Always Buy Organic

It feels like a good time to review the Environmental Working Group’s Dirty Dozen list of fruit and vegetables with the heaviest loads of pesticides.

Although I try to only buy organic produce whenever I can, sometimes it’s just not possible and I must settle for a conventionally-produced fruit or vegetable. It’s times like these that I want to look back at the list of the best and worst for your health when it comes to conventionally-farmed produce.

Just this morning I was in Whole Foods trying to remember how terrible it would be were I to get those conventionally-farmed-but-vibrant orange and yellow bell peppers, since there were not any organic peppers in the store. Not good, it turns out.

Go Organic
I think it will be easiest to remember the ones I want to ban from my cart first, so here are the twelve fruits and vegetables that we should buy organic whenever possible because they carry the highest toxic loads:

  1. Peaches
  2. Apples
  3. Bell Peppers
  4. Celery
  5. Nectarine
  6. Strawberries
  7. Cherries
  8. Kale
  9. Lettuce
  10. Grapes (imported)
  11. Carrots
  12. Pears

If you’re like me and KitchenStewardship, you might also include a few others on this list, like bananas, blueberries, and spinach.

Ok to Go Conventional
On the other side of the coin, it’s nice to know the safest conventional produce, too, for those times when organic items are not available or astronomically expensive. Here are the fifteen fruits and vegetables that have the least toxic load from conventional farming:

1. Onion
2. Avocado
3. Sweet corn
4. Pineapple
5. Mango
6. Asparagus
7. Sweet peas
8. Kiwi
9. Cabbage
10. Eggplant
11. Papaya
12. Watermelon
13. Broccoli
14. Tomato
15. Sweet potato

It’s interesting to see sweet corn on this list, as it is something we insist must be organic before we bring it into our house. This list is only looking at the pesticide load, I believe, whereas we are more concerned with genetic modifications when it comes to corn. Thanks to Monsanto, most of the conventional corn available in this country is genetically modified to produce its own insect repellent when grown with their Round-Up pesticide.

But I digress. That is a topic for another post.

The Environmental Working Group’s pocket-sized printout of this list of safe produce is great to carry with you in your wallet. You can also get the iPhone app.

Have any others to add that you insist should always be organic at your house? Add them in the comments below!