The Environmental Working Group’s (EWG) annual Dirty DozenTM list of the twelve fruits and vegetables highest in pesticides is a useful tool. In determining the Dirty DozenTM EWG analyzed the results of over 80,000 tests for pesticide residues on various produce. Shockingly, over 95% of all non organically grown peaches and celery tested had pesticide contamination (peaches and celery are two of the Dirty DozenTM).
With the increase in cancer and other diseases and the established link between certain cancers and pesticide absorption, I think it is becoming more and more important to consume as few pesticides as possible. Pesticides are, by their very nature, toxic. Granted, they are developed to be toxic to insects and not humans, but I think they are still dangerous and their consumption is to be avoided.
First I’ll give you the list of the Dirty DozenTM and then I will share strategies on reducing pesticide consumption while still enjoying lots of healthy fruits and vegetables.
EWG’s Dirty DozenTM
7) Bell Peppers
13) Grapes (Imported)
When Buying Any of the Dirty DozenTM, Buy Organic
Ideally, we’d all eat only organically grown produce. Organic fruits and vegetables are healthier. They usually have higher levels of vitamins and nutrients and are better for our bodies and the environment. However, I understand that not everyone has access to or can afford to buy 100% organically grown produce. In that case, I recommend using the Dirty DozenTM as a guide to what foods you should always buy organic. If you go to EWG’s website you can print a free wallet card to keep with you when shopping so you can easily reference the Dirty DozenTM and be sure to purchase organic versions these particularly contaminated fruits and vegetables.
Go for the Clean FifteenTM
EWGalso releases a list of the fruits and vegetables with the least amount of pesticides, called the Clean FifteenTM, which includes: onions, avocado, sweet corn, pineapple, mangos, sweet peas, asparagus, kiwi, cabbage, eggplant, cantaloupe, watermelon, grapefruit, sweet potato, and honeydew melon. These foods are considered safer when purchased from conventional (non organic) sources. If you cannot afford organic produce then sticking with the clean fifteen might be an option for you (although I think that having a wide variety of fruits and vegetables in our diet is very important and would hate for you to miss out on the unique nutrients offered by organic versions of the Dirty DozenTM).
Try Your Local Farmer’s Market
Although they may not be USDA certified organic, they may not be using pesticides. Ask the farmers at the stands about their growing methods. Imported fruits and vegetables tend to have higher levels of pesticides so at the very least you should be doing better buying locally even if they do use some pesticides.
Use Common Sense
Wash all produce before eating it. If you do purchase any of the Dirty DozenTM from conventional sources, wash them extra vigorously and peel them if you can (this is a tradeoff as pesticides are often concentrated in the peel but valuable nutrients may be concentrated there too). If you can see a cloudy film on the fruits or vegetables you probably want to pass on them and buy something else. For example, I love black plums but the conventionally grown kind often has this cloudy film. I don’t know for sure what the film is made of but just won’t buy them when it is present. I either go over to the organic aisle or pick a different fruit. This article also has a recipe for making your own earth friendly produce wash.
I hope this article has opened your eyes to the importance of limiting your pesticide exposure and buying organic versions of the Dirty DozenTM and I wish you the very best of health.
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