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safe produce at the supermarket
Have you ever asked what pesticides are on your produce? Do you ever wonder if certain produce could be safer than others? I discussed yesterday that getting produce from different countries can reduce the exposure to pesticides. Each year the Environmental Working Group releases its list of produce you should definitely eat organic, as they contain the most pesticides if not purchased organic. They call it their Dirty Dozen.
According to the EWG, “In 2012, the American Academy of Pediatrics issued an important report that said that children have “unique susceptibilities to [pesticide residues’] potential toxicity.” The pediatricians’ organization cited research that linked pesticide exposures in early life and “pediatric cancers, decreased cognitive function, and behavioral problems.” It advised its members to urge parents to consult “reliable resources that provide information on the relative pesticide content of various fruits and vegetables.” Health problems such as cancer, developmental problems and lower IQ in children, have been linked to pesticides on fruits and vegetables.
The Environmental Working Group shared its Shopper’s Guide to Pesticides in Produce, in late 2015 which ranks pesticide contamination on 48 popular fruits and vegetables. The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) and Federal Food and Drug Administration, analyze thousands of samples from these popular fruits and vegetables. Pesticides persisted on fruits and vegetables even if they were washed or peeled! That’s bothersome!
“We are saying, eat your fruits and vegetables,” said Sonya Lunder, EWG’s senior analyst. “But know which ones have the highest amounts of pesticides so you can opt for the organic versions, if available and affordable.”
Here are highlights from the EWG’s Dirty Dozen. These fruits and vegetables are ranked from the worst to best:
Apples: More than 45 different pesticides have been detected on apples. That same residue can be found in juices, apple sauce, so it is smart to buy these organic as well.
Peaches: More than 60 different pesticides are found on them. Again find organic or avoid the fruit to reduce exposure to pesticides.
Nectarines: Imported nectarines are among the most highly contaminated tree fruits. Domestic are not quite as bad, but over 33 pesticides have been detected on those.
Strawberries: More than 40 pesticides have been found on strawberries, however fewer are found on frozen strawberries.
Grapes: Imported grapes have more than 50 pesticides, which correlates into raisins have high pesticide residue as well.
Celery: More than 60 pesticides are found on celery. Find organic for a safe alternative.
Spinach: More than 50 pesticides are found on spinach, while frozen spinach has nearly as many, frozen spinach has fewer detected pesticides.
Sweet Bell Peppers: Nearly 50 different pesticides have been detected on sweet bell peppers, all colors.
Cucumbers: As many as 83 different pesticides can remain on the skin of the vegetable even after washing! Peeling the skin can reduce that number, but you still will ingest some pesticides.
Cherry Tomatoes: If you cannot grow your own tomatoes, you need to find organic.
Potatoes: More than 30 pesticides are fund on potatoes. Sweet potatoes test with fewer pesticides, giving a safer alternative.
Hot Peppers: Unfortunately the hot pepper joins the sweet pepper on the list of foods with the most pesticide residue.
This list is eye opening to me. Just typing out this article, has etched these fruits and vegetables in my brain. The health risks associated with pesticides are too great. I will buy them all organic. It is so scary that our food system is so contaminated! Finding a good source of safe food is crucial. Organic farmer’s markets, local stores that feature organic produce are key. I look forward to spring and the start of a garden of my own, that I know will be pesticide free. Taking the issue into my own hands! Happy gardening to those who enjoy as I do!
Consumer Report created a tool that shows “the risk of pesticide exposure from eating 48 fresh conventional fruits and vegetables from 14 different countries. Analyzing 12 years of data from the Department of Agriculture’s Pesticide Data Program, Consumer Reports’ scientists, in consultation with Charles Benbrook, Ph.D., of Washington State University, placed each produce-country combination into one of five risk categories. Risk assessment included the number of pesticide residues on each food, the frequency with which they were found, and the toxicity of the pesticides. The risk categories correlate with the number of daily servings of that fruit or vegetable.
Consumer Report also took into account the typical serving size of the food and the weight of the person eating that food. Their analysis is based on the risk to a 3½-year-old child, estimated to weigh 35.2 pounds, because children are especially vulnerable to the dietary risks from pesticides and the EPA is required to consider the effects of pesticides on children. The risks to adults would be lower.
By law, supermarkets are required to tell consumers where the fruits and vegetables they’re buying were grown. It’s usually not difficult to find the country of origin, but that information is not always in the same place. You can locate the country of origin on the fruit stickers, on the packaging of certain fruits or vegetables bagged apples or containers of mushrooms, for instance), signs posted near the produce or the box the produce was shipped in.”
Here is a summary of Consumer Report’s findings on which country’s produce tested at low risk for pesticides. This list shows which country’s you should look for on the stickers or labels of produce. They tested lowest for pesticides:
Apples: New Zealand
Applesauce: Canada, U.S.
Asparagus: Mexico, U.S.
Avocados: Chili, Mexico, Peru
Bananas: Columbia, Costs Rica, Equador, Guatemala, Honduraas, Mexico
Blueberries: Argentina, Canada, Chile, Uruguay, U.S.
Broccoli: Mexico. U.S.
Cabbage: Canada, Mexico, U.S.
Cantaloupe: Costa Rica, Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico
Carrots: Look for Organic
Cauliflower: Mexico, U.S.
Cherry tomatoes: U.S.
Cilantro: Mexico, U.S.
Collard Greens: U.S.
Corn: Mexico, U.S.
Cranberries: Look for Organic
Eggplant: Honduras, U.S.
Grapes: Chile, Mexico, Peru, U.S.
Green Beans: Look for Organic
Green Onions: Mexico, U.S.
Hot Peppers: Look for Organic
Lettuce: Mexico, U.S.
Mangoes: Guatemala, Mexico
Mushrooms: Canada, U.S.
Nectarines: Look for Organic
Onions: Peru, U.S.
Oranges: Chile, South Africa, U.S.
Papayas: Belize, Brazil, Guatemala, Jamaica, Mexico, U.S.
Peaches: Look for Organic
Canned Peaches: Greece, South Africa, U.S.
Pears, Argentina, U.S.
Pineapple: Costa Rica, Ecuador, Mexico, U.S.
Raspberries: Mexico, U.S.
Snap Peas: Mexico, U.S
Spinach: Mexico, U.S.
Strawberries: Look for Organic
Summer Squash: Mexico
Sweet Bell Peppers: Look for Organic
Sweet Potatoes: Look For Organic
Tangerines: Look For Organic
Watermelon: Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico, U.S.
Winter Squash: Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico