A healthy diet must have plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables. We make sure of this every time we shop at the produce section. But are we actually serving ourselves a big dose of pesticides with the produce we choose? You can avoid pesticides completely by always buying organic, however this can soon become too expensive. A better alternative is to only buy certain fruits and vegetables organic. Certain types of produce are exposed to higher amounts of dangerous chemicals than most. The Environment Working Group releases a ‘dirty dozen’ list every year. These are fruits and vegetables that are high in pesticides and should always be bought organic. All organic food has a 5 digit code starting with a 9, so you can identify if a product is organic even if doesn’t explicitly say it.
Pesticides And Health Disorders
Pesticides are widely used to kill many of the pests and mold that attack our crops. However, many of these chemical pesticides have also been found to have a harmful effect on humans. The Environmental Protection Agency modernized its rules in 1996, banning many toxic chemicals from foods. The U.S. Department of Agriculture Pesticide Testing tests crops for 100 pesticides with special emphasis on those that can have a disastrous effect on the health of children. Till the age of 12, the central nervous system has not yet been fully formed, making children more susceptible to the dangers of pesticides. In adults, pesticides have been linked to respiratory disorders, skin conditions, higher rates of miscarriage and cancers. However, this shouldn’t scare you away from eating fresh foods. Washing vegetables under running water has been found to remove most pesticides. High-risk foods can be washed in a solution containing 3 parts water and 1 part white vinegar if you can’t afford to buy them organic.
The Dirty Dozen
Americans can reduce 90% of their exposure to pesticides by just avoiding 12 specific veggies and fruits that have been listed by the EWA as having the most pesticide residue on them. So during your next visit to the produce aisle, try buying these twelve foods organic.
All foods in the dirty dozen have one thing in common, they are eaten with the skin. This is why the amount of pesticides is dangerous since no amount of washing can get them off. Strawberries took the top spot in 2017 with almost 20 pesticides found in one of the samples tested. This is because the fruit grows so close to the soil, are attacked by many pests and so have a high amount of pesticides sprayed on them. Americans eat nearly 8 pounds of strawberries every year individually which means they’re ingesting a lot of pesticides as well. If you love strawberries, it’s always best to buy them organic.
Spinach has moved up to the second spot from the eighth position it was at in 2016. In fact, spinach has been found to have double the pesticide residues found in most other crops. New fungicides and insecticides have been found on them in 2017. In humans, these can lead to nervous tremors and convulsions. Which is why the agency EWA has strongly advised everyone to only buy organic when buying these greens.
Nectarines have the third highest amount of pesticide residues found on them. Almost 98% of the fruit samples tested were found to have at least one pesticide. These golden yellow fruits are very similar to peaches but with a much smoother skin. While they are undeniably delicious, it’s safest to buy them organic unless you want to eat plenty of pesticides along with them.
And The Remainder…
The remaining nine in the list are apples, pears, peaches, cherries, grapes, celery, tomatoes, sweet bell peppers and potatoes. In fact, potatoes and pears have appeared in the dirty dozen for the first time this year. While there might be a few new entrants in the list every year, the dirty dozen doesn’t see too many fluctuations year to year. This is because they represent the long-term effects of pesticides on these foods types.
The Clean 15
The good news is that there are many veggies and fruits that you can still eat without having to buy them organic. The EWA has found that 15 types of produce are completely safe, with more than 80% of the samples tested showing no pesticide residue. The fruits and vegetables in this list are sweet corn, avocados, pineapples, cabbage, onions, frozen sweet peas, papaya, asparagus, mangoes, eggplant, honeydew melon, kiwis, cantaloupe, cauliflower and grapefruit.