Our stores are stocked with a bountiful array of attractive fruits and vegetables – and we are told that eating them contributes to good health. That is true, after a fashion. It is true if they are natural fruits and vegetables, i.e., grown without poisonous pesticides. There’s the rub!
The beauty of fruits and vegetables is a clue to an invisible danger. The absence of any blemishes is a sure sign that they have been sprayed with pesticides, often, several pesticides. Too much beauty is a warning sign. Do I exaggerate? I think not. Monterey County of California, where I live, is the strawberry capital of the country (as it is for artichokes and brussel sprouts), and I see the crops being repeatedly sprayed. Perhaps it is done according to USDA guidelines, but then again, for advantage in the market, perhaps not. Local strawberries are sprayed with Captan, Malathion, Sodium Meta, and Potassium Meta – all known or suspected carcinogens.
The Environmental Working Group has done us a favor by tabulating measured residues.
Shopper’s Guide to Pesticides in Produce
Dirty Dozen: #1 has most pesticide
1 Apples 2 Celery 3 Strawberries
4 Peaches 5 Spinach 6 Nectarines– imported
7 Grapes – imported 8 Sweet bell peppers 9 Potatoes
10 Blueberries (domestic) 11 Lettuce 12 Kale/collard greens
Clean 15: Lowest in Pesticide #1 has least pesticide
1 Onions 2 Sweet Corn 3 Pineapples 4 Avocado
5 Asparagus 6 Sweet peas 7 Mangoes 8 Eggplant
9 Cantaloupe – domestic 10 Kiwi 11 Cabbage
12 Watermelon 13 Sweet potatoes 14 Grapefruit
You may ask, “What kind of pesticides are on these?”
Types of Pesticide Residues in Five Fruits
|FRUIT||Known or probable carcinogens||Suspected hormone disruptors||Neurotoxins||Developmental or reproductive toxins|
(Note that crops are not typically sprayed with dozens of pesticides. Different regions of the country use different pesticides and the above figures represent the sum of all regions. Moreover, most pesticides have more than one detrimental health effect, and therefore appear in several columns.)
What can we conclude? Buy organics wherever they are available to you, and the extra cost is not excessive. Otherwise, buy from the bottom of the list, that is, those with the least amount of pesticide residues. A list of all 53 food items is on EWG’s web site.