Safety in a Vegetarian Diet?

You might think so, by avoiding those bioaccumulative (POPs-type) pesticides that build up in the bodies of cattle, poultry, and their cousins, milk and eggs. You would certainly cut down on your intake of pesticides, and also growth hormones and antibiotics that are added to animal feed.

After reading my blog articles you will have recognized that we absorb lots of other toxic substances from plastics, food packages, and household items,  e.g., phthalates, BPA, PFOA, and PBDEs, to name a few. But even if you somehow avoid significant contaminations by these toxics lurking everywhere, there is still a threat. A vegetarian has to eat something, and that will include cereals, vegetables, and fruits, and things made from them, like bread, cake, cookies, crackers, and cooking oils. “So what?” you may ask. All major grain crops – wheat, corn, oats, and rice – are sprayed with insecticides or herbicides or fungicides. Tons and tons of them! Even a non food crop like cotton is sprayed (a lot), and the crushed seeds yield cottonseed oil, a major cooking oil. Soybeans are another source of cooking oils, and it has been shown that Roundup© applied to the plants is incorporated into the beans, hence, into the oil. Some of the pesticide sprayed onto fruit is also absorbed into the fruit, and therefore cannot be entirely removed by washing or peeling. Unless you buy organic, you will be ingesting pesticides.

The story gets more gruesome as one probes deeper, for example, rocket fuel (perchlorate) in lettuce and dioxins on grains, but we will end the agony here.

Consult the guide below for pesticide residues on fruit and vegetables. For more information see


The Environmental Working Group, January 31, 2007

1 (worst) Peaches 100
2 Apples 96
3 Sweet Bell Peppers 86
4 Celery 85
5 Nectarines 84
6 Strawberries 83
7 Cherries 75
8 Lettuce 69
9 Grapes – Imported 68
10 Pears 65
11 Spinach 60
12 Potatoes 58
13 Carrots 57
14 Green Beans 55
15 Hot Peppers 53
16 Cucumbers 52
17 Raspberries 47
18 Plums 46
19 Oranges 46
20 Grapes-Domestic 46
21 Cauliflower 39
22 Tangerine 38
23 Mushrooms 37
24 Cantaloupe 34
25 Lemon 31
26 Honeydew Melon 31
27 Grapefruit 31
28 Winter Squash 31
29 Tomatoes 30
30 Sweet Potatoes 30
31 Watermelon 25
32 Blueberries 24
33 Papaya 21
34 Eggplant 19
35 Broccoli 18
36 Cabbage 17
37 Bananas 16
38 Kiwi 14
39 Asparagus 11
40 Sweet Peas-Frozen 11
41 Mango 9
42 Pineapples 7
43 Sweet Corn-Frozen 2
44 Avocado 1
45 (best) Onions 1

About donlouis

The author has long had a keen interest in staying healthy and fit, and in doing whatever I can to keep the natural environment unpolluted and a healthy space for people and all animals. As a former Board Member of a municipal water district, I regularly had to deal with the issue of water quality. I first became aware of radiation hazards from toxic materials while working on uranium for nuclear reactors. During the 1960s I was tuned into the global hazard from Strontium 90 raining down from atmospheric testing of nuclear bombs. While working in the chemical industry in later years I became aware of the many forms of chemical contaminants entering the environment every day, and resolved to do something about it. I am able to make sense out of the voluminous descriptions of common toxic chemical because of my training in chemistry, with a Ph.D. degree and several decades of research and development work in the chemical industry. My training and experience enables me to present to readers reliable and current information on the topic of chemical hazards in the environment, and their threats to human health. All my life I have loved hiking and camping in nature. Skiing, river kayaking, and tennis have been my favorite physical activities. Nature photography is my artistic passion.
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