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The Most Pesticide-Laden Produce, And Healthier Alternatives

June 20, 2012 by  

The Most Pesticide-Laden Produce, And Healthier Alternatives
Some commercial produce varieties are heavily laden with pesticide residues, while others are less often contaminated.

A new report from the Environmental Working Group shows which varieties of commercial produce are the most and the least contaminated by agricultural pesticides.

The EWG’s eighth edition of the Shopper’s Guide to Pesticides in Produce™ contains updated information on 45 popular fruits and vegetables and their total pesticide loads dividing produce into two groups, the Dirty Dozen Plus™ and the Clean Fifteen™.

“The explosive growth in market share for organic produce in recent years testifies to a simple fact that pesticide companies and the farmers who use their products just can’t seem to grasp: people don’t like to eat food contaminated by pesticides,” said EWG president Ken Cook. “Our shopper’s guide to pesticides in produce gives consumers easy, affordable ways to eat a diet rich in fruits and vegetables while avoiding most of the bug killers, fungicides and other chemicals in produce and other foods.”

Researchers analyzed annual pesticide residue tests conducted by the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the Food and Drug Administration between 2000 and 2010. The samples were first washed or peeled prior to being tested so that rankings would reflect the amounts of the crop chemicals likely present on the food when is it eaten.

Here are some of their findings:

  • About 98 percent of conventional apples have detectable levels of pesticides.
  • Domestic blueberries tested positive for 42 different pesticide residues.
  • Seventy-eight different pesticides were found on lettuce samples.
  • Every single nectarine USDA tested had measurable pesticide residues.
  • As a category, grapes have more types of pesticides than any other fruit, with 64 different chemicals.
  • Thirteen different pesticides were measured on a single sample each of celery and strawberries.

The researchers also found that produce like kale and collard greens were commonly contaminated with highly toxic organophosphate insecticides that are toxic to the nervous system and have been largely removed from agriculture over the past decade. They are not banned, however, and still show up on some food crops.

“Organophosphate pesticides are of special concern since they are associated with neurodevelopmental effects in children,” said EWG toxicologist Johanna Congleton. “Infants in particular should avoid exposure to these pesticides since they are more susceptible to the effects of chemical insult than adults.”

For the first time, the researchers also took a look at commercially produced baby food and found that 92 percent of the pear samples tested positive for at least one pesticide residue, with 26 percent of samples containing five or more pesticides and 15 different pesticides on all samples.

The researchers recommend that parents opt for organic baby food varieties or prepare their own baby food using organic produce or varieties known to have the lowest pesticide levels.

Here’s a look at which fruits and vegetables make each list:

The Dirty Dozen Plus™
Only buy these organic.
The Clean Fifteen™
Commercially lowest in pesticide.
Sweet bell peppers
Nectarines- imported
Blueberries- domestic
+ Green beans
+ Kale

**In order from highest to lowest pesticide content except for green beans and kale.

Sweet Corn
(buy organic if concerned about GMOs)
Sweet peas
Cantaloupe- domestic
Sweet potatoes

**In order from lowest
to highest pesticide content.

Among The Clean Fifteen™, 90 percent of cabbage, asparagus, sweet peas, eggplant and sweet potato samples had one or no pesticides detected. Overall, no single vegetable sample had more than five different chemicals, and no single fruit sample had more than five types of pesticides detected.

The researchers also took a look at drinking water, taking 284 samples from 12 community drinking water sources. They discovered a toxic herbicide called atrazine or its metabolites in every single sample and the herbicides 2,4-D and metolachlor in more than 70 percent of the samples. Six varieties of pesticides were also found in at least half of the samples.

Sam Rolley

Staff writer Sam Rolley began a career in journalism working for a small town newspaper while seeking a B.A. in English. After learning about many of the biases present in most modern newsrooms, Rolley became determined to find a position in journalism that would allow him to combat the unsavory image that the news industry has gained. He is dedicated to seeking the truth and exposing the lies disseminated by the mainstream media at the behest of their corporate masters, special interest groups and information gatekeepers.

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  • T. Jefferson

    Better living through chemistry.

    • Richard Romerhaus

      Is all of this Obama’s Fault? He and his cronies are furtively going about poisoning food while you gus are blatantly poisoning minds wit your partisan drivel!

      • p.cauch

        You are equally biased and uninformed. Seek wisdom and get knowledge.

      • James

        It’s OK to be biased when if they don’t claim to be neutral journalists like the news networks. But when they are biased and then say they are just reporting news ….well then they are just high paid liers … censoring by omission and we are the suckers for believing them. We don’t do our homework and take their propaganda for granted … just like the Nazi’s were so good at teaching the world how to manipulate the public with the media.

  • cedarridgefarmsinc

    Don’t forget about GMO, they never list that do they? The FDA has gone around the world to spread their poison for 3rd world nation’s now.

  • independant thinker

    I grow as much of my own vegatables as I can. There is also a farmers stand run by the Amish near where I live and I will purchase things from them that I cannot grow. There vegatables are grown by them or other Mennonite/Amish.

  • liberty49

    I don’t trust the government at all. I urge everyone to grow what they can and the government ban go to hello.

  • BuddyLama

    “detectable levels of pesticide residue”… WTF is the matter with you people?
    Levels of unsubstantiated claims and irresponsible hyperbole are far higher in this article!

    “Residue” does not quantify anything. Has anyone bothered to ask precisely what levels of any of these substances have been determined harmful to humans? Are you aware that Nature itself is not free of toxic or otherwise harmful substances?

    EVERYTHING in life is a trade-off. Eliminate all pesticides and the pests flourish, more of the food supply is destroyed, and people go hungry. It is delusional to believe “natural pesticides” can do the job.

    In 1970, the U.S. National Academy of Sciences estimated that DDT saved more than 500 million lives during the time it was widely used. A scientific review board of the EPA showed that DDT is not harmful to the environment and showed it to be a beneficial substance that “should not be banned.” According to the World Health Organization, worldwide malaria infects 300 million people. About 1 million die of malaria each year. Most of the victims are in Africa, and most are children.

    In Sri Lanka, in 1948, there were 2.8 million malaria cases and 7,300 malaria deaths. With widespread DDT use, malaria cases fell to 17 and no deaths in 1963. After DDT use was discontinued, Sri Lankan malaria cases rose to 2.5 million in the years 1968 and 1969, and the disease remains a killer in Sri Lanka today.

    All due to the propaganda and lies of enviro-nazis.

    You can’t fix stupid…

    • Awake

      Yes & Yes you both make valid points.
      However, consider for a moment the effects of a miniscule amount of pesticide accumulating of a lifetime in the human body and the outcome, research shows effects. And to qualify from a quote by Damon Vickers in his book “It’s the environment stupid”.

      The environment (soil, air, water, FERTILIZER- includes pesticide. etc) makes a difference in the by-product of the land where it is grown and ultimately how it is processed before it is brought to market. That’s not even taking into consideration food that has been Genetically Modified and the long term effects. EX – Wheat was genetically modified by a scientist in the 1950′s so it doesn’t matter whether you eat whole wheat or whole grain, you/me like the majority of Americans are walking around with inflated “wheat bellies” not “beer bellies” according to the latest scientific research; quite evident when you look around at teens, 20 somethings and older individuals it becomes progressively more conspicious.

      Yes we all need to do research, read more and make our own decisions but the bottom line is that the food supply has changed drastically in the 21st century compare to the 19th even the 20 century; before “BIG BUSINESS” started putting food in the local stores.
      Take a look at what companies like MONSANTO (who controls most of the farm/food production is doing the WORLD over (there are farmers committing suicide in India, as they are unable to meet Monsanto calls for loans when the GMO seeds supplied fails)
      This is bigger than you and me both.
      Take a closer look at the government agencies, in this case the FDA, EPA and those that support and have their own agenda ex George Soros, his link to organizations, politicians etc, sooooooomuch bigger that us all.
      I know this is easier said than done because America generally speaking is alseep – they are concerned with the latest sports results, fashion trends, American Idol, which bar to meet at on Friday night, but educate and inform those around you.
      And, hopefully we can all work to make a difference.


      • Acushla

        I live in Queensland Australia. Ever since the ALP Government put Sodium Fluoride Pesticide Poison into the drinking water, I and many of my fellow Queenslanders have been vomiting up this white foam with bubbles in it that do not pop. It also comes out in my urine. They do not care. So this is what life is like in the 21st Century where the Greed is Good Mentality dominates and the Age of Violence is well and truly spreading in this century with all the deaths taking place in so many different ways in the Western nations as well as in all the nations of the world.

      • Jane

        Thank you, It is about time for all of us to wake up and understand the connection to our health and our children’s health problems and how they are connected to the food supply and the water we drink. We are America the poisoned. Monsanto has bought up the support of people on both sides and is moving forward more and more to affect the food we eat. please do your research and lean on Congress to make the companies label fully all of our foods so at least we can make an informed decision about what we eat and feed our children. Growing our own is a good idea.

    • Casey

      Your obviously an industry insider or a lobyist for the chemical companies! I think that you should go take a nice long soak in a vat of pesticides! Such industry hyperbole! Birds eat the insects that eat the plants. When you kill all of the insects, there is no food for the birds and they die off. Not only from the lack of natural food but also from chemicals such as Atrazine, a known poison to the avian population. All the crap about how bad off we would be if it weren’t for pesticides…I believe it is the other way around! I also suggest you take a nice long swig of ground water that has been contaminated with agricultural chemicals. Since you love chemicals so much well, you can just continue to live dangerously while us sensible ones figure out how to make this world a better place!

  • A. D. Waldecker

    I agree with BuddyLama! The alarmest in this country constantly stir up controversy over unproven or unquantified drivel!! Very little of so called exposes have much substance. While I’m her lets cover the FDA’s drug approval process that keeps killing people at an alarming rate with side effects and the AMA’s collateral damage percentage. Instead of druging people and lining the pockets of of Big Pharma we should be pursuing natural cures for most maladies. I’m willing to bet that a cure for Cancer has already been discovered and because of the BIG business $$$ envolved it won’t be released. After all the poor RX’s have to make payments on their Ferrari’s,etc..
    Just a thought!!
    Dave W.

  • Pingback: Which Fruits and Vegetables Must You Buy Organic? | Grains of Hope


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