Tuesday, April 12, 2016

EWG's 2016 Shopper’s Guide to Pesticides in Produce: The Good, The Bad and the Super Toxic

It is that time of the year again when the Environmental Working Group publishes its annual Shopper’s Guide to Pesticides in Produce™

Two lists, Dirty Dozen and the Clean Fifteen, are released to help you know what fresh produce you should be buying organic ( those with the highest levels of pesticides or the ' Dirty Dozen') and which produce you can save some money on and buy conventional ( the 'Clean Fifteen' list). 

What are some of the dangers of exposure to pesticides ( especially during pregnancy and early childhood?) 

Let's start by saying that pesticides are designed to kill living things (pests) - by definition something that kills living things can't be great for you or your kids.

Pesticides have been linked to cancer, acute and chronic nervous system injury and dysfunction of the endocrine, reproductive and immune systems.

The American Academy of Pediatrics issued an important report that said that children have "unique susceptibilities to [pesticide residues'] potential toxicity." They cited research linking pesticide exposures in early life and "pediatric cancers, decreased cognitive function, and behavioral problems." It advised its members to urge parents to consult "reliable resources that provide information on the relative pesticide content of various fruits and vegetables." 

Also bad news?  Pesticides persist on fruits and vegetables tested by USDA, even when they were washed and, in some cases, peeled.


The biggest novelty this year is the elevation of strawberries to #1 as the worse fruit with highest levels of pesticides available.   Among EWG's  alarming findings regarding pesticides in strawberries this year are:
  • Conventional (ie:  non organic) strawberry growers "use jaw-dropping volumes of poisonous gases – some developed for chemical warfare but now banned by the Geneva Conventions – to sterilize their fields before planting, killing every pest, weed and other living thing in the soil."  These chemicals remain in the soil and are absorbed by the fruit when planted.
  • of the strawberries tested by EWG scientists, about 40% had residues of 10 or more pesticides, with some having as much as 17 different pesticides.
  • What are some of the pesticides used on strawberries?  Some are not too bad, but others are linked to cancer, reproductive and developmental damage, hormone disruption and neurological problems.
  • Most strawberries sold in the US come from California.   "California data show that in 2014, nearly 300 pounds of pesticides were applied to each acre of strawberries – an astonishing amount, compared to about five pounds of pesticides per acre of corn, which is considered a pesticide-intensive crop. "
Here is the list!

  1. Strawberries
  2. apples
  3. nectarines
  4. peaches
  5. celery
  6. grapes
  7. cherries
  8. spinach
  9. tomatoes
  10. sweet bell peppers
  11. cherry tomatoes
  12. cucumber
  1. Avocados
  2. Sweet Corn
  3. Pineapples
  4. Cabbage
  5. Sweet Peas (frozen)
  6. Onions
  7. Asparagus
  8. Mangoes
  9. Papayas
  10. Kiwi
  11. Eggplant
  12. Honeydew Melon
  13. Grapefruit
  14. Cantaloupe
  15. Cauliflower

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