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Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Limiting Your Fruit and Vegetable Pesticide Exposure

The Environmental Working Group, a nonprofit organization whose purpose is to promote public health, reviewed nearly 100,000 reports on fruit and vegetable pesticide residue from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and the Department of Agriculture. After being washed with a USDA high-pressure water system, many of the fruits and vegetables still contained high pesticide residues. The following were the worst.
  • Celery
  • Peaches
  • Strawberries
  • Apples
  • Domestic blueberries
  • Nectarines
  • Sweet bell peppers
  • Spinach, kale and collard greens
  • Cherries
  • Potatoes
  • Imported grapes
  • Lettuce
 In contrast, the following were found to have little or no pesticide residue.
  • Onions
  • Avocados
  • Sweet corn
  • Pineapples
  • Mango
  • Sweet peas
  • Asparagus
  • Kiwi fruit
  • Cabbage
  • Eggplant
  • Cantaloupe
  • Watermelon
  • Grapefruit
  • Sweet potatoes
  • Sweet onions
Bottom Line
Obviously, buying organic fruit and vegetables is the simplest and most direct way to avoid pesticide exposure. Unfortunately, organic produce is usually a lot more expensive than the non-organic variety and most people balk at the price difference. A reasonable compromise is to limit consumption of the most pesticide-tainted fruits and vegetables and preferably buy them in organic form, while buying other fruits and vegetables in non-organic form. The Environmental Working Group states that switching to the organic version of just the produce from the worst-offender list would reduce total dietary pesticide consumption by 80%.

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