While mainstream media sources often seem to downplay the importance of eating organic, more and more people continue to choose it as an alternative to “conventional” food laced with synthetic pesticides.
Many people are familiar with the Dirty Dozen and the Clean Fifteen from the Environmental Working Group, a list that highlights the most important fruits and vegetables to buy organic in order to maximize your dollars (of course it’s always wise to buy all organic if you can afford it).
But despite the growing awareness of such lists, it’s also important to realize just how contaminated many of the most popular fruits and vegetables in the United States really are.
The amount of pesticides on these 5 most polluted types of produce is quite staggering, especially when taking into consideration that so many “healthy eating programs” still recommend them or pass them out at health events and omit any mention of the high levels of toxic pesticide residues they contain.
Four fruits and vegetables have actually been found to have more than 45 different pesticide residues over large samples taken by the USDA; please keep this in mind next time you reach for another “healthy” snack to give your kids in the produce aisle.
The Top Five Pesticide Soaked Fruits and Vegetables
With such a striking level of pesticides on each of these “conventional” produce items, it would be wise to avoid them entirely (even though most people buy them non-organic without a second thought).
- Strawberries – Topping the list for the first time are strawberries, which may seem healthy at first glance but can actually be loaded with synthetic, toxic pesticides according to the EWG’s research.
Pesticides with negative effects on the brain and nervous system have been found in spades on strawberries, with 45 total pesticide residues found by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Pesticide Data Program (PDP) in 2009.
Organic strawberries are especially pricier but well worth the investment; buy them in season and freeze to save big money.
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- Apples – Perhaps the most notable inclusion on this list is the apple, considering its reputation as a health food, and the lack of organic apple orchards for that matter. The vast majority of apple orchards remain “conventional,” and yet American apples were banned in Europe by regulators.
Over 47 pesticide residues were found in conventional apples by the USDA’s pesticide data program in 2010. Doesn’t exactly make for a healthy cup of apple juice now, does it?
Apples are one of the highest pesticide residue fruits out there. Will you think twice about that next apple orchard trip?
- Nectarines- Similar to peaches with their soft, round shape and orange color, nectarines soak up pesticides like a sponge, making it important to always buy them organic or at the very least to limit consumption.
According to the 2012 EWG report, nectarines actually had the most overall weight of pesticides of any fruit or vegetable, meaning that you’re probably consuming these dangerous carcinogens in every bite and taxing the health of your liver.
- Peaches- The soft skin of peaches combined with a number of chemicals they’re treated with could spell serious trouble for your health.
A 2008 study by the PDP found 62 different pesticide residues on conventional peaches; several are considered as neurotoxins and/or known carcinogens. While you can wash some of the residues off, much of it remains in the soft flesh and skin of the peach.
- Celery- According to USDA data, non-organic celery may contain as many as 64 different pesticide residues, including as many as 16 that are considered toxic to honeybees.
This toxic onslaught has landed the otherwise healthy vegetable on the top 5 of the ‘Dirty Dozen’ in 2016, and underscores yet again the importance of buying organic.
Not only is organic celery far less contaminated by these and other pesticides (see the data here), but it also tastes quite a bit better (without the not-so-pleasant aftertaste in my humble opinion).
You can easily find most of these top five most pesticide-laden fruits and vegetables in just about everyone’s kitchen, and that’s what makes them so dangerous to our health.
Don’t forget to share this information with your friends who still consider these pesticide-soaked fruits and vegetables to be “health foods.”