Worst Produce for Pesticides

Don’t Buy Dirty

When it comes to produce, buying organic means not buying chemicals and pesticides with your food.

June 13, 2012

People can’t always buy organic for a variety of reasons: The local store may have limited supplies, they lack variety or cost is a consideration. But whatever the reason—or excuse—shoppers should be aware that some produce at the grocery store is more pesticide-laden than others.

Every year, the nonprofit Environmental Working Group tests all manner of produce for pesticides and chemicals to compile its list of the “Dirty Dozen,” and “Clean 15” foods. By using the list to choose the foods to buy organically, EWG says consumers can substantially lower their pesticide intake.

You would be surprised at the level of pesticide contamination found in common, conventionally grown food. According to EWG:
• Every sample of imported nectarines tested positive for pesticides, followed by apples (97.8 percent) and imported plums (97.2 percent).
• 92 percent of apples contained two or more pesticide residues‚ followed by imported nectarines (90.8 percent) and peaches (85.6 percent).
• Some 96 percent of all celery samples tested positive for pesticides, followed by cilantro (92.9 percent) and potatoes (91.4 percent).
• Nearly 90 percent of celery samples contained multiple pesticides, followed by cilantro (70.1 percent) and sweet bell peppers (69.4 percent).
• Hot peppers had been treated with as many as 97 pesticides, followed by cucumbers (68) and greens (66).

If that doesn’t underscore the need to “buy organic,” I don’t know what does. You might want to clip this out and keep it with you for handy reference when you go shopping.

According to EWG, if you choose five servings a day from the “Clean 15” instead of the “Dirty Dozen,” you can lower the volume of pesticide you consume daily by 92 percent. You’ll also eat fewer types of pesticides. Picking five from the “Dirty Dozen” would cause you to consume an average of 14 different pesticides a day, the EWG states. If you choose five servings from the “Clean 15,” you’ll consume fewer than two pesticides per day.

Additionally, because genetically modified, or GMO, seeds are more often used in conventionally raised corn, and the United States (unlike other countries) does not require GMO labeling, EWG recommends consumers only buy organic sweet corn; GMO seeds are banned in organic growing.

For more information, including a printable “Clean 15/Dirty Dozen” wallet card, visit http://www.ewg.org/foodnews.

The Clean 15
These are the lowest in contamination; if you must buy commercially raised products, stick to this list.

1. Onions
2. Sweet Corn
3. Pineapples
4. Avocados
5. Asparagus
6. Sweet peas
7. Mangoes
8. Eggplants
9. Cantaloupes, domestic
10. Kiwis
11. Cabbages
12. Watermelons
13. Sweet potatoes
14. Grapefruits
15. Mushrooms

The Dirty Dozen
Always buy these foods grown organically to avoid pesticide intake.

1. Apples
2. Celery
3. Strawberries
4. Peaches
5. Spinach
6. Nectarines, imported
7. Grapes, imported
8. Sweet bell peppers
9. Potatoes
10. Blueberries, domestic (These are grown locally in Mississippi; ask your farmer.)
11. Lettuce
12. Kale/collard greens

Jim PathFinder Ewing is a journalist, author, writer, editor, organic farmer and blogger. His latest book titled Conscious Food: Sustainable Growing, Spiritual Eating (Findhorn Press) is in bookstores now. Find Jim on Facebook: http://bit.ly/cuxUdc or follow him @edibleprayers or @organicwriter or visit blueskywaters.com.

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