Move Over, Apples – There Is A New Fruit At The Top Of The Most Contaminated Produce List
The Environmental Working Group (EWG) puts out a list every year of the “dirty dozen” – produce that contain the highest levels of pesticide residue. For the last 5 years, apples of been at the top of that list.
This year, there was a bit of a surprise, as a new fruit has knocked apples off it’s first place rank – strawberries.
The EWG researched and analyzed more than 35,000 samples of fruits and vegetables taken by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). According to their results, at least 98% of non organic strawberry samples showed the presence of pesticide residues. In fact, 47% of the strawberry samples had residues from over 10 different pesticides!!! Some samples showed residues from up to 17 types of pesticides.
Some of these chemicals are thought to be relatively harmless, but others among them have been connected to serious issues like hormone disruption, neurological damage, developmental damage, reproductive system damage and of course, cancer.
The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) says that these pesticides are not at a level that is harmful to consume. On their website, they publish a statement saying,
We perform dietary risk assessments to ensure that all tolerances established for each pesticide are safe. These assessments account for the fact that the diets of infants and children may be quite different from those of adults and that they consume more food for their size than adults,
However, sources from the EWG say that this is shockingly careless. EWG’s Senior Analyst Sonya Lunder said,
The EPA’s levels of residues allowed on produce are too lax to protect Americans’ health. They should be updated to reflect new research that shows even very small doses of toxic chemicals can be harmful, particularly for young children.
Here is the full list of the 2016 report of the “Dirty Dozen”, ranked from most contaminated to least:
- Sweet bell peppers
- Cherry tomatoes
The EWG also published a “Clean Fifteen” list, showing the conventional produce that is not as polluted with residue as those that made the dirty dozen list:
- Sweet corn
- Sweet peas (frozen)
- Honeydew melon
It is helpful to be aware of both of these lists, but if you are at all concerned about the effects of pesticides in your diet, the best thing you can do is to buy as much organic produce as you can afford, with a focus on the “Dirty Dozen” list.