Which fruits and veggies top the “Dirty Dozen” list?
For the first time in five years, strawberries topped apples as the fruit with the highest pesticide load on the 2016 Dirty Dozen list, published by the Environmental Working Group (EWG).
The EWG listed strawberries as number one due to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) tests in 2014 and 2009, which found up to 17 different pesticides in their samples. Additionally, 98 percent of strawberry samples had pesticide residue, along with peaches, nectarines and apples.
The Dirty Dozen list is part of the EWG Shoppers Guide to Pesticides in Produce, which helps consumers prioritize which produce to buy organic in order to reduce their pesticide intake. In addition, a Clean Fifteen list shows which items are safe to eat without buying organic.
Here are the complete lists for 2016:
- Sweet bell peppers
- Cherry tomatoes
*Kale and collard greens
*included in the list because they contain pesticides toxic to the human nervous system
- Sweet corn
- Sweet peas frozen
- Honeydew melon
According to the EWG, even though there is a consumer demand for food with fewer chemicals, in 2014, the USDA still found 146 different pesticides in thousands of produce, and 6,953 produce samples had pesticide residue. Furthermore, even when the fruits and vegetables were washed and peeled, sometimes the pesticide residue still remained.
“While researchers do not have a clear understanding of how different pesticide residues interact in the body, or how they affect human health, it has been shown that pregnant women, nursing mothers, infants and children are most at risk for exposure to pesticides,” says Amy Strutzel, a dietitian at Advocate Condell Medical Center in Libertyville, Ill. “Babies in the womb are exposed to pesticides through their mother’s diet, and mothers can expose their infants through breastfeeding. Children are exposed to pesticides because they eat more than adults in comparison to their body weight.”
More and more people are concerned by this trend, but often they cannot afford a fully organic diet. Therefore, the EWG lists and guides also provide shopping help to keep costs down while reducing pesticide intake.
Strutzel adds that pesticide residue can be reduced in foods by washing with water before it is cooked or eaten. She also says cooking can help decrease pesticide levels in foods that do not have a removable exterior.
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