The Environmental Working Group (EWG) has just released its annual “Shopper’s Guide to Pesticides in Produce™“, a list of the most (and the least) pesticide-contaminated fruits and vegetables. Even though the data analysed is from the US I like to refer to it when shopping. It helps me make better choices on what produce I need to buy organic (The Dirty Dozen™) and what produce I can buy non-organic (The Clean 15™).
I try to buy organic as much as my budget allows and tend to be particularly careful with the fruits and vegetables my kids eat most (apples, cucumbers, cherry tomatoes and carrots).
Conventional agriculture uses pesticides to grow vegetables and fruits. Pesticides are detrimental to health and have been linked to a number of conditions including headaches, cancer and endocrine disruption. Contrary to popular belief washing or peeling does not always remove pesticides. However, it is good to keep in mind that “pesticides levels typically diminish when food is cooked“.
Interestingly, the EWG’s report points out that even though *leafy greens and hot pepper are not listed in The Dirty Dozens™, they have been found to have high levels of pesticides. So if you eat often, make sure you buy them organic.
Signing up to an organic vegetable box delivery scheme or simply growing your own are easy ways to ensure you limit the amount of pesticides in your food.
Here are some of the key findings of the report:
- 99 percent of apple samples, 98 percent of peaches, and 97 percent of nectarines tested positive for at least one pesticide residue.
- The average potato had more pesticides by weight than any other produce.
- A single grape sample and a sweet bell pepper sample contained 15 pesticides.
- Single samples of cherry tomatoes, nectarines, peaches, imported snap peas and strawberries showed 13 different pesticides a piece.
The Dirty Dozen™ 2015 – apples, celery, cherry tomatoes, cucumbers, grapes, nectarines, peaches, potatoes, snap peas, spinach, strawberries, sweet bell peppers (+*kale, collard greens, spring greens and hot peppers).
The Clean Fifteen™2015 – asparagus, avocados, cabbage, cantaloupe, cauliflower, eggplant, grapefruit, kiwis, mangos, onions, papayas, pineapples, sweet corn, frozen sweet peas, sweet potatoes.