How Much Pesticide Do Your Favorite Fruits & Veggies Contain?

f your fresh fruit and vegetables seem to have a little extra zing to them, there might be a reason why. The Environmental Working Group recently posted their new list of fresh fruits and vegetables rankings according to pesticide findings. That biting peppery taste may just be a little bug killer you consumed with the delicious fruits and vegetables.

If you find yourself cheering for leaders, then go buy some peaches because they were number 1. That doesn’t mean that peaches are the safest or best fruit, quite the contrary. Peaches had the highest score on the ratings.

That means it either had several pesticides, higher concentrations of pesticides, more samples that had pesticides, more samples by percent that had more than one pesticide or the maximum number of pesticides found on a single sample. Because of its high rating, the likelihood is that it excelled in all these areas.

Peaches aren’t the only offenders. Apples, sweet bell peppers, celery, nectarines and strawberries ranked right up next to them.

There were two different entries for grapes and the imported grapes scored 66 points or number 10 from the top while domestic grapes fared better with 44 points making them tied with plums and oranges for positions number 21, 22 and 23.

While all this is interesting and in an almost sick way, fun to look up your favorite fruit or vegetable, what is the purpose of the chart? If you worry about pesticides as a health hazard, then it has everything to do with the charts.

Let’s pretend that you change your diet just a bit and instead of an apple a day, recommended by your doctor, you eat an onion a day, not recommended by your spouse. Onions are on the bottom of the chart with only 1 point. There’s very little risk of pesticides in onions, since most onions can take care of themselves in that area.

This change dramatically slices your intake of pesticide by 93 points. This change reduces your exposure to pesticides and the possible health damage they cause.
If you aren’t sure what those adverse health problems are, then perhaps a list is appropriate here.

Remember, children’s bodies are smaller and they have longer to ingest the pesticides so the effect is far more dramatic on them. First, it depends on the type of pesticide but, exposure is linked to:

1. Cancer – Many of the pesticides on the market are found to have carcinogenic effects on the body.

2. Eye, skin and lung irritation – While irritation doesn’t sound so bad, consider the problems from COPD caused by constant lung irritation.

3. Effects on your hormones – These effects vary dramatically but it’s more than impotence because hormones of all kinds control every function of the body.

4. Effects on the Nervous system – When nerve sheathes wear or the wiring goes haywire in your body, your life changes dramatically for the worse.

What can you do to prevent being just another jumbo insect with damage from the pesticide besides giving up your favorite food?

If you’re not positive that you want to eat an onion instead of an apple, the potential damage from pesticides then you might want to shop at the organic section of your grocers market.

Organic farmers don’t use chemical pesticides but instead, use other techniques like companion planting and natural predators to protect their crop from pests. Neither of these leaves anything on the fruits and vegetables that you could consume.

One Teaspoon Or Two Of Pesticide Residue?

Sounds exciting doesn’t it? A teaspoon of pesticide residue. It doesn’t make the fruit or vegetable go down any easier. As a matter of fact, the pesticide residue will go down and stay with you for years to come causing untold damage to your body and nervous system.

The Environmental Working Group, a not for profit group has come out with a Shoppers Guide, a list of the twelve most contaminated fruits and vegetables called the “dirty dozen”. They also have a list of the twelve cleanest ( those with a minimal amount of pesticide contamination).

The “Dirty Dozen” (starting with the most contaminated)

  • peaches
  • apples
  • sweet bell peppers
  • celery
  • nectarines
  • strawberries
  • cherries
  • pears
  • grapes (imported)
  • spinach
  • lettuce
  • potatoes

The “Cleanest 12” (starting with the cleanest)

  • onions
  • avocados
  • sweet corn (frozen)
  • pineapples
  • mangoes
  • asparagus
  • sweet peas (frozen)
  • kiwi fruit
  • bananas
  • cabbage
  • broccoli
  • papaya

And you were going to have peach cobbler for dessert? A computer analysis by the EWG found that consumers could reduce their pesticide exposure by nearly 90 percent by avoiding the most contaminated fruits and vegetables and eating the least contaminated instead. If you consume the “dirty dozen” you will be exposed to an average of 15 different pesticides each day according to Richard Wiles, the executive director of the Environment Working Group.

Eating from the cleanest group cuts the exposure down to only two a day. I don’t know about you but I decided after I saw the list of the “dirty dozen” that I would definitely go organic because a lot of my favorites are on that list. I do like “peach cobbler”!

Why Should You Care About Pesticides?

The toxic effects of pesticide residue are cause for concern and becoming more documented every day. Their effects on people, especially during fetal development and childhood when just a little bit of the chemicals can cause a long lasting effect are not well understood and are just beginning to be researched.

The best course of action is to avoid those that are on the “Dirty Dozen” and to eat more of the “cleanest 12”.

What about washing and peeling the skins?

Sometimes it helps! Washing and peeling were taken into consideration before they did the study. In other words bananas were peeled and pears were washed before the tests were done. Washing and rinsing fresh produce and fruit can reduce some levels of pesticide residue but unfortunately it does not eliminate them. It helps to peel, but down the drain go a lot of the good nutrients with the peels.

The best solution is to eat organic fruits and vegetables. If this is not an option or budget prohibitive, eat a variety of fruits and vegetables and be sure to wash with soap before enjoying.

The Bottom Line!

Protect yourself and your family. Do what you can to cut down on your exposure to pesticide residue. Buy local fruits and vegetables where you can ask the farmer if they use pesticides.