Recently I discovered EWG.org (EWG = Environmental Working Group) They maintain an updated list of 48 popular fruits and vegetables organized by pesticide contamination levels as tested by the USDA and FDA.
|Clean 15||Dirty Dozen|
|1 Avocados||1 Strawberries|
|2 Sweet Corn*||2 Apples|
|3 Pineapples||3 Nectarines|
|4 Cabbage||4 Peaches|
|5 Sweet peas frozen||5 Celery|
|6 Onions||6 Grapes|
|7 Asparagus||7 Cherries|
|8 Mangos||8 Spinach|
|9 Papayas*||9 Tomatoes|
|10 Kiwi||10 Sweet bell peppers|
|11 Eggplant||11 Cherry tomatoes|
|12 Honeydew Melon||12 Cucumbers|
|* A small amount of sweet corn, papaya and summer squash sold in the United States is produced from GE seedstock. Buy organic varieties of these crops if you want to avoid GE produce.|
So what do you do?
2 things - Wash your produce or Avoid the contamination in the first place.
Does washing work? A post on Dr.Gourmet says:
“It appears so. In an article published in 1996 researchers at the Southwest Research Institute reported on their experience in washing various produce items. Their results:
For grapes, strawberries, green beans and leafy vegetables they swirled the items in a dilute solution of Palmolive dish detergent and water at room temperature for 5 to 10 seconds. They then rinsed with warm water. The solution was 1 teaspoon of the Palmolive in a gallon of water.
For other fruits and vegetables they used a soft brush to scrub the food with the detergent solution for about 5 to 10 seconds and then rinsed with warm water. They didn’t include such items as lettuces and citrus fruits, because their analysis showed that most of the pesticides were in the outer leaves or the rinds, which were not eaten. Washing, they found, removed about 75% of the pesticides.”
Another clear choice is to try and avoid the pesticide contamination entirely by choosing to source your produce in another way.
One way to avoid pesticides, probably the most budget friendly, is to grow your own fruits and vegetables pesticide free in your own garden. There are many health benefits to gardening that go way beyond the produce you are after. Benefits very similar to the Japanese practice of Shirin-Yoku, like reduced stress, lowered blood pressure, enhanced immunity….
If, however, you are like me you can’t grow all of the produce you enjoy eating. You still have a choice if you want to avoid pesticides.Vote with your wallet and buy organic. Eventually, the conventional growers will get the hint.
Buying organic can be an expensive option. One that for us can be and usually is cost prohibitive. This is where the EWG list comes in. Rather than purchase all of your produce organic buy only the “The dirty dozen” organic. Why?
The EWG site states that for the Dirty Dozen for 2016:
- More than 98 percent of strawberry samples, peaches, nectarines, and apples 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 strawberries showed 17 different pesticides.
Whereas for the Clean 15:
- Avocados were the cleanest: only 1 percent of avocado samples showed any detectable pesticides.
- Some 89 percent of pineapples, 81 percent of papayas, 78 percent of mangoes, 73 percent of kiwi and 62 percent of cantaloupes had no residues.
- No single fruit sample from the Clean Fifteen™ tested positive for more than 4 types of pesticides.
- Multiple pesticide residues are extremely rare on Clean Fifteen™ vegetables. Only 5.5 percent of Clean Fifteen samples had two or more pesticides.
So it would seem the most budget friendly way to avoid pesticides is to grow you own produce. If you can’t then consider avoiding the EWG’s Dirty Dozen.
For more healthy living tips click here