I often get emails from well-meaning people who want to do the best thing for their families when it comes to buying nutritious food—but as is the case for so many of us, the best choice is often cost-prohibitive. When it comes to fruits and veggies, we know that eating fresh, organic fare is the optimal choice. Since buying organic can more than double your food bill, it helps to know if there are items for which buying conventionally grown (not organic) is safe, from the standpoint of not being laden with a high number of pesticide residues.
According to the Environmental Working Group, their Shopper’s Guide to Pesticides in Produce ranks pesticide contamination on 48 popular fruits and vegetables. EWG’s analysis is based on the results of more than 35,200 samples tested by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, and the Food and Drug Administration. It’s important to know that these pesticide residues remain on produce even after items are washed and, in some cases, peeled. Recent studies of insecticides used on some fruits and vegetables found that children exposed to high levels were at a greater risk of impaired intelligence and ADHD.
Each year, the Environmental Working Group releases a list of fruits and vegetables called, “The Dirty Dozen.” The Dirty Dozen lists the fruits and veggies that have been contaminated by multiple pesticides and have higher concentrations of pesticides. This year, strawberries ranked at the top of the list for detectable pesticide residues.
Sonya Lunder, EWG Senior Analyst, said, “It is startling to see how heavily strawberries are contaminated with residues of hazardous pesticides, but even more shocking is that these residues don’t violate the weak U.S. laws and regulations on pesticides in food. The EPA’s levels of residues allowed on produce are too lax to protect Americans’ health. They should be updated to reflect new research that shows even very small doses of toxic chemicals can be harmful, particularly for young children.” (Note: EPA is the Environmental Protection Agency.)
When I buy produce, I always spend the extra money and buy organic if the items are on The Dirty Dozen list. My advice to you is to do the same, when you can. It’s easier to invest in your health than to invest in overcoming a disease.
2016 DIRTY DOZEN
10. Sweet bell peppers
11. Cherry tomatoes
Along with The Dirty Dozen, the EWG also releases an annual list called, “The Clean Fifteen.” This list identifies the top fruits and veggies with very little pesticide contamination.
Lunder says, “…for those on the Dirty Dozen, we recommend buying the organic versions if you want to avoid pesticides on your food. You can feel confident that conventionally grown fruits and veggies on the Clean Fifteen list have very little pesticide contamination.”
For items on this list, I save my money and buy conventionally grown rather than organic.
2016 CLEAN FIFTEEN
2. Sweet corn
5. Sweet peas (frozen)
12. Honeydew melon
Keep these lists handy and consider this information when shopping. Keep in mind that the lists change from year to year, based on testing. Spend the extra money for organic produce when it makes sense, and when you can get away with buying conventionally grown, do so with confidence!