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Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Updated List of the Most-Contaminated Fruits and Vegetables

We have all been well-informed that eating plenty of fruits and vegetables is good for our health. Yet there is a continuing problem with pesticide contamination. It is recommended that we avoid pesticide exposures that are more than a thousandth of the levels known to be toxic. Yet, a 2009 study by the Environmental Protection Agency found that about 40% of U.S. children have levels of at least one pesticide well above this limit.

The nonprofit organization, Environmental Working Group, while reaffirming that eating a lot of fruits and vegetables is good for our health, suggested that by avoiding the most pesticide-contaminated fruits and vegetables, and choosing the least-contaminated ones, we can lower pesticide residues in our bodies. To assist us in making such choices, the organization just published a list of the dozen most pesticide-contaminated fruits and vegetables, based on testing done in 2009 by the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the Food and Drug Administration. It also published a list of the 15 least-contaminated fruits and vegetables to provide us with healthy alternatives. The group estimates that by avoiding the “Dirty Dozen” (or buying organic versions of these items) and selecting from the “Clean 15” we can cut our pesticide exposure by 92%.

The Dirty Dozen - Most Contaminated Fruits and Vegetables (number 1 is the worst)
  1. Apples
  2. Celery
  3. Strawberries
  4. Peaches
  5. Spinach
  6. Nectarines (imported)
  7. Grapes (imported)
  8. Sweet bell peppers
  9. Potatoes
  10. Blueberries (domestic)
  11. Lettuce
  12. Kale/collard greens
The Clean 15 - Least Contaminated Fruits and Vegetables (Number 1 is the best)
  1. Onions
  2. Sweet corn
  3. Pineapples
  4. Avocados
  5. Asparagus
  6. Sweet peas
  7. Mangoes
  8. Eggplant
  9. Cantaloupe (domestic)
  10. Kiwi
  11. Cabbage
  12. Watermelon
  13. Sweet potatoes
  14. Grapefruit
  15. Mushrooms
Bottom Line
Obviously, buying all organic produce is the best alternative for health. However, most of us cannot or choose not to incur the major budget hit it would entail. So the next best alternative is to avoid the “dirty dozen” while selecting more items from the “clean 15 “ list. Going organic for selected items can still keep our food budgets from skyrocketing.

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