Cherry Pick Your Produce
The Environmental Working Group (EWG), a nonprofit environmental research and advocacy organization has disclosed that, when grown conventionally, strawberries are contaminated with more types of pesticides and in higher concentrations than any other produce tested by the U.S. Department of Agriculture and Food and Drug Administration. EWG analyzed test results of more than 35,000 samples of popular fruits and vegetables and found 98% of strawberries had detectable pesticide residues. While the levels were within Environmental Protection Agency limits, federal regulations are too lax and some of the pesticides can still be harmful at these levels.
EWG puts out a list called the “Dirty Dozen”, which is an annual shoppers guide to produce that contains high levels of pesticides. They also produce a list called the “Clean Fifteen”, a list of foods that have the lowest levels of pesticide or a skin that one typically does not eat.
Many people erroneously think that eating organic produce provides more nutrients than conventionally raised produce. The fact is, eating organic is better for the environment because no pesticides are used to produce the food, and the food does not have residual pesticide on it.
If you are skeptical about organics or have a limited budget, consider buying organic when you purchase these fruits and vegetables.
- For the last 5 years, apples have topped the Dirty Dozen list. Remember when there were only a few varieties of apples available? There are now over 7,000 varieties of apples which means they require more pesticides. The fact that apples are often stored means that even more chemicals must be applied to preserve the apple in storage.
- The average potato had more pesticides by weight than any other produce.
- Samples of grapes and bell peppers contained 15 pesticides.
- Strawberries, nectarines, peaches and cherry tomatoes each had 13 different pesticides.
Even if you are on a budget, it is worth a few extra cents to purchase organic produce when the conventional alternative is the most toxically treated produce in America. To positively identify organic produce, look for a five digit code that begins with 9 on the Price Look Up (PLU) sticker.