Are you Eating Pesticides with your Produce?
“Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food.”― Hippocrates
I think everyone will agree that eating fruits and vegetables is essential for good health. The Environmental Working Group’s 2019 Shopper’s Guide to Pesticides in Produce is a solid reminder that we can make choices to actively reduce our pesticide exposure. We are what we eat, so I try to be mindful of the chooses I make with my fork. Over the years, I’ve definitely noticed that I’m sensitive to the pesticides used in modern agriculture— my body knows when produce is contaminated with glyphosate (round up) and other chemicals. Even if you don’t personally notice the difference, how do you feel about feeding your family toxins with their veggies?
The 2019 Dirty Dozen and Clean 15 list from the EWG is a great resource. The list is meant to empower you to make conscious decisions about what you eat. Buying and eating organic is a great goal, but when it’s not possible (due to budget or limited selection), I suggest referring to the EWG list to minimize exposure to toxins.
- The Dirty Dozen contain the most pesticides. Buying organic versions of the Dirty 12 helps you avoid toxic chemicals. Consider switching to organic options for fruits and veggies on the Dirty Dozen list.
- Buying conventional versions of the Clean 15 helps your wallet. These fruits and veggies likely contain fewer pesticides, and less of each one… so it’s safer to buy conventional (non-organic) for this produce.
- Nearly 70% of produce sold in the U.S. comes with pesticide residues.
- Overall 225 different pesticides & pesticide breakdown products were found on popular fruits and veggies that we eat every day.
- Before testing, all produce was washed and peeled (like people would prepare for themselves). This shows that simple washing does not remove all the pesticides. Yikes!
- While kale nutrition is loaded with vitamins and antioxidants, there’s one reason to always try to choose organic. Kale is among the most contaminated fruits and vegetables— more than 92% contained 2 or more pesticides. Kale and spinach samples had, on average, 10 to 80 percent more pesticide residue by weight than any other crop.
- 99% of conventional strawberries had detectable pesticide residues with an average of 7.8 different pesticides per strawberry. (30% had residues of 10 or more pesticides. And overall, strawberry samples contained 81 different pesticides in various combinations.) This is alarming, as strawberries are a favorite fruit for many kids.
- 80% of U.S. apples contain EU-banned pesticides.
- Note: A lot of corn, zucchini and squash are genetically modified (and treated with pesticides) so I try to choose organic options even though they are listed on the Clean 15 list.
- Pesticides are linked to a wide range of human health issues, ranging from short term impacts like headaches and nausea, to chronic issues like cancer, infertility, endocrine disruption, and lower IQ in children.
- A French study, published in JAMA Internal Medicine, found that people who eat a mostly organic diet reduce their overall cancer risk by 25%
- About 40 pesticides currently approved by the Environmental Protection Agency for use in conventional (non-organic) farming are classified as possible or probable carcinogens by the International Agency for Research on Cancer.