The Environmental Working Group (EWG) has produced a new wallet-size Shoppers' Guide listing the 12 fruits and vegetables that are the most contaminated with pesticides (the "Dirty Dozen"), as well as those that generally contain the lowest amount of pesticides (the "Cleanest 12").
The information is based on nearly 43,000 tests conducted by the USDA and FDA.
The last EWG Guide was issued in 2003, and there have been several revisions to the list. Carrots have been removed from the most contaminated list, but lettuce has been added.
Likewise, cauliflower is no longer listed as one of the cleanest vegetables, but cabbage is now one of those "clean" 12.
An analysis by the EWG estimated that consumers could reduce their exposure to pesticides by almost 90 percent merely by avoiding foods on their "Dirty Dozen" list. A few members of that list include:
- Sweet bell peppers
Conversely, the "Cleanest 12," according to the EWG, only expose you to less than two pesticides per day, a huge difference from the 15 pesticides per day you'd be exposed to with the fruits and vegetables on the "Dirty Dozen" list. Among the cleanest fruits and vegetables you can buy at your grocery store:
Some three years ago, I warned you about the fruits and vegetables containing the highest amount of pesticides as determined by the Environmental Working Group.
Now their new, updated list is out.
To stay away from pesticides that do great harm to your health, I urge you to download the EWG's complete listings of the best and worst whole foods at their Web site today. Remember that the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) considers 60 percent of herbicides, 90 percent of fungicides and 30 percent of insecticides to be carcinogenic.
Pesticides can have many negative influences on health, including neurotoxicity, disruption of the endocrine system, carcinogenicity and immune system suppression. Pesticide exposure may also affect male reproductive function and has been linked to miscarriages in women.
That's just part of the reason why you should always be on the lookout for organically grown fruits and vegetables. Where traditional farmers apply chemical fertilizers to the soil to grow their crops, organic farmers feed and build soil with natural fertilizer.
Traditional farmers use insecticides to get rid of insects and disease, while organic farmers use natural methods such as insect predators and barriers for this purpose. Traditional farmers control weed growth by applying synthetic herbicides, but organic farmers use crop rotation, tillage, hand weeding, cover crops and mulches to control weeds.
The result is that organically grown food is not tainted with chemical residues, which can be harmful to humans.
The major problem most people have with organic food is the expense.
However, if you plan wisely, eating organically is actually quite affordable. A diet based on whole organic foods does not have to be cost-prohibitive for the average family or single consumer.
However, I'd like to say that if the choice is between fresh conventional vegetables and wilted organic ones, I would recommend you choose the conventional vegetables; old and wilted vegetables lose many of the vital micronutrients that make them so healthy.
If you do buy conventional vegetables, I certainly recommend that you go with the ones on the "Cleanest 12" list.