Did you know that 98 percent of apples are contaminated with pesticides? 98 percent! In fact, they are the new “dirtiest” food, according to the Environment Working Group’s (EWG) latest “Dirty Dozen” Guide.
EWG analyzed FDA and USDA data gathered from 2000 to 2012 on the levels of pesticides in foods, and compiled a guide to the highest (“The Dirty Dozen”) and lowest (“Clean 15”) foods in pesticide residues. They found that 68 percent of food samples had detectable pesticide residues…and that’s after they had been washed or peeled.
This year, EWG added an additional category: “Dirty Dozen Plus,” highlighting foods contaminated with highly toxic organophosphate insecticides. According to the report, these insecticides are toxic to the nervous system and have been largely removed from agriculture over the past decade, however, they aren’t banned and still show up on certain foods.
Here are the findings:
Dirty Dozen (from most to least contaminated):
Apples, celery, sweet bell peppers, peaches, strawberries, nectarines, grapes, spinach, lettuce, cucumbers, blueberries and potatoes.
Dirty Dozen Plus:
Green beans, kale, collard greens
The Clean 15:
Onions (cleanest), sweet corn, pineapples, avocado, cabbage, sweet peas, asparagus, mangoes, eggplant, kiwi, cantaloupe, sweet potatoes, grapefruit, watermelon and mushrooms.
- Bell peppers had 88 different pesticide residues, followed by cucumbers (81) and lettuce (78).
- Grapes had 15 pesticides detected on a single sample. Blueberries and strawberries both had 13 different pesticides detected on a single sample
-The average imported nectarine had much higher total weight of pesticides than any other food crop.
Scientists also tested baby food and found pears and green bean samples contaminated with fungicides and bug killers. Time to start making your own baby food at home, perhaps?
The EWG reports that the health benefits of fruits and vegetables outweigh the risks of pesticide exposure, so eating conventionally-grown produce is far better than not eating it at all. Instead, use this guide to try and limit your exposure as much as possible; buy organic when you can and always thoroughly wash your produce. Better yet, start your own organic garden in your backyard!
For more information on the effects of chemicals in our food and environment, click here.
photo courtest EWG