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Shopping – Is Eating Organic Worth The Money?

By November 10, 2011November 2nd, 2012Video

Recently, the Environmental Working Group released the 2011 edition of its Shopper’s Guide to Pesticides in Produce with updated information on fruits and vegetables and their total pesticide loads. EWG highlights the worst offenders with its “Dirty Dozen” list and the cleanest conventional produce with its “Clean 15” list.


#1  Apples
• Moved up to the #1 position, peaches were in that spot in the previous report.
• Up to 42 different pesticides.
• Safer alternatives: watermelon, bananas, tangerines

#2  Celery
• Has no protective skin, which makes it almost impossible to wash off the chemicals .
• Up to 64 pesticides
• Safer alternatives: broccoli, radishes, onions
#3  Strawberries
• They’re most likely imported from countries that have less-stringent regulations for     pesticide use.
• 59 pesticides have been detected in residue on strawberries.
• Safer alternatives: kiwi, pineapples
#4  Peaches
• These are delicately skinned fruits in conventional orchards.
• As many as 62 pesticides
• Safer alternatives: watermelon, tangerines, oranges, and grapefruit.
#5  Spinach
• One of the most contaminated green leafy vegetable.
As many 48 different pesticides.
• Best to buy organic.
#6  Nectarines
• They rank up there with apples and peaches among the dirtiest tree fruit.
• 33 different pesticides found
• Safer alternatives: watermelon, papaya, mango
#7  Grapes
• Imported grapes run a much greater risk of contamination than those grown domestically,     only imported grapes make the Dirty Dozen list.
34 different pesticides.
• Safer alternatives: kiwi, raspberries.
#8  Bell peppers
• Peppers have thin skins that don’t offer much of a barrier to pesticides.
• Tests have found 49 different pesticides. 
(Plus They’re often heavily sprayed with     insecticides.)
• Safer alternatives: green peas, broccoli, and cabbage.
#9  Potatoes
• America’s favorite vegetable!
• Can be laced with as many as 37 different pesticides.
• Safer alternatives: eggplant, cabbage, and earthy mushrooms.
#10  Blueberries:
• One of the dirtiest berries on the market.
• Up to 52 different pesticides.
• Definitely buy organic blueberries!
#11  Lettuce:
• Another delicate, thin-skinned, leafy green vegetable.
• Up to 51 different pesticide residues.
• Buy organic whenever possible.
# 12 Kale:
• Traditionally, kale is known as a hardier vegetable that rarely suffers from pests and      disease, but it was found to have high amounts of pesticide residue this year.
• At least 10 different pesticides, maybe more.
• Safer alternatives: cabbage, asparagus, and broccoli.

You want to eat organic whenever possible but if food dollars are tight eat more of these. The Clean Fifteen are fruits and vegetables that are considered safe by the EWG to eat even when not organic. Switch to eating more from the Clean Fifteen, you will drop your consumption of pesticides by about 80%.

All the produce on “The Clean 15” bore little to no traces of pesticides, and is safe to consume in non-organic form.
This list includes:
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

Why do some types of produce have more pesticides than others  If the fruit or vetetable has an outer layer of skin they have a defense against the pesticides.   Not the same for strawberries and berries. In general, thin-skinned fruits and vegetables are more prone to absorbing the pesticides.

The President’s Cancer Panel recommends washing conventionally grown produce to remove any residues. It won’t remove all the pesticides (because some are already absorbed), but you should still wash it to reduce pesticide exposure.


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