Fruits and Vegetables with the Most Pesticide Toxins
Each year, the Environmental Working Group publishes a guide called “The Dirty Dozen,” naming the twelve fruits and vegetables that are most contaminated with toxic pesticides. These fruits and veggies undergo tests for the presence and amount of a wide variety of different pesticides.
Here is the list, with the most contaminated ranked #1.
5. Blueberries (domestic)
7. Bell peppers
10. Kale and Collard Greens
12. Grapes (imported)
How These Fruits and Vegetables are Tested
U.S. Department of Agriculture started its testing program, known as the Pesticide Data Program, in 1991. Each year, foods are tested for over 400 different pesticides, including fungicides, herbicides, insecticides and growth regulators. Random samples of foods typically available to consumers are taken from 10 different states. Since both domestic and imported produce are available in stores, both are included in the testing. Before testing, samples of fruits and vegetables are washed and/or peeled to represent how they would typically be used by a consumer.
The analysis uses several different criteria, including what percent of the samples tested positive for pesticides, how many samples had two or more pesticides, the largest number of pesticides found on an individual sample, and the total number of residues on a single type of fruit or vegetable. The ranking of the produce on the list was based on a combination of all of this data.
Overall, toxic chemicals were found in 7 out of 10 samples tested. Over 96% of the peach samples were contaminated, as were 95% of the celery samples. Many of the foods on this list are contaminated with several different types of pesticides. Of the fruits on the list, strawberries and domestic blueberries were found to be contaminated with 13 different pesticides, and some individual samples of peaches carried 9 different pesticides. Vegetables were similarly contaminated with multiple different chemicals. Celery had 13, kale and collard greens had 10, and spinach had 9.
Minimize Your Exposure to Pesticides and Toxins
Chemical pesticides have been linked to a number of health issues such as cancer, nervous system toxicity, effects on hormones, and irritation of the eyes, skin and lungs. To minimize exposure to pesticide residues, the Environmental Working Group recommends buying organically grown produce on this list if possible. If only organic versions of these twelve fruits and vegetables versions are eaten, you can decrease your pesticide exposure by 80%.
See the Environmental Working Group website for a printable Shopper’s Guide to Pesticides that can be cut out and taken to the store when shopping.
Environmental Working Group http://www.foodnews.org/
USDA Agricultural Marketing Service http://www.ams.usda.gov/AMSv1.0/pdp