In the last post, we established:
1) If we eat commercially available non-organic produce, we have detectable levels of pesticide in our urine and blood. Eating organic reduces pesticide levels to non-detectable levels.
2) Pesticides don’t seem to shorten our lifespan, but they may have some undesirable neurological and cognitive effects, particularly in children.
The American Academy of Pediatrics, The Environmental Working Group (EWG), and the United States Department of Agriculture all agree and encourage us to eat more fresh fruits and vegetables, whether they are organic or not. A consensus seems to be:
1. Eat more fresh fruits and vegetables.
2. If you can, buy organic.
3. If you can’t buy all organic, buy some organic.
4. If you can’t buy organic, still eat more fresh fruits and vegetables.
PRODUCE PESTICIDE RANKING
The Environmental Working Group (Go over and read their site. I enjoyed it.), using results from USDA testing, puts out a list ranking the pesticide residue found on commonly eaten fruits and vegetables from highest residue to lowest.
It is a helpful guide for our family. For example, my kids eat loads of apples. Loads. So we definitely switched that one to organic. And greens really shrink when you cook them and you eat lots, so I switched those to organic. I like to try to buy organic, but I never pass up a good sale! Except on those HUGE apples that don’t even fit in the apple cutter. Has anyone broken their apple cutter on one of those, trying to make it fit through?
The Dirty Dozen: The first 12 on the EWG list they call “The Dirty Dozen.”
The Dirty Dozen Plus: The Dirty Dozen plus kale/collard greens and summer squash. The kale/collard greens and summer squash were added because of the type of pesticide residual found on them. The residual is from pesticides that are no longer allowed to be used but that sadly stick around in the field for years and still get taken up into the plant.
The Clean Fifteen: The last 15 on their list they call “The Clean Fifteen.”
(The list applies to produce available to American consumers. I briefly Googled for European readers and Australian readers. I found a brief blurb for European readers, and I list it at the end. For Australia, I didn’t find much. Anyone know anything?)
The Complete List, ranked in order from most pesticide residue to least:
7. Sweet bell peppers
8. Nectarines, imported
11. Cherry tomatoes
12. Hot peppers
15. Snap peas-imported
16. Kale/collard greens +
24. Green beans
26. Summer squash +
28. Winter squash
29. Green onions
30. Snap peas-domestic
33. Honeydew melon
38. Sweet potatoes
46. Sweet peas frozen
51. Sweet corn
FOR EUROPEAN COUNTRIES:
- From The European Food Safety Authority (March 2013), “Residue compliance rates remain high, annual pesticide report finds” (However they refer back to a 2010 report I link to below. I couldn’t quickly find anything more recent. If you know of any, I’d love for you to copy and paste the link to comments)
- A quote from the 2010 European Union Report on Pesticide Residues in Food as posted in European Food Safety Authority Journal 2013 :
“The highest percentage of samples exceeding the MRL was identified for oats (5.3%), followed by lettuce (3.4%), strawberries (2.8%), peaches (1.8%), apples (1.3%), pears (1.3%), tomatoes (1.2%), leek (1.0%), head cabbage (0.9%) and rye (0.2%). MRL exceedances were not reported for milk and swine meat samples. Peaches had the highest percentage of samples with measurable pesticide residues above the LOQ (73%), followed by 68% of the apple samples and 68% of the strawberries. Comparing the results of the 2007 and 2010 EU-coordinated control programmes (where the same commodities of plant origin – except pears – were tested), it was noted that the only commodity for which the percentage of samples without detectable residues increased was strawberries (from 31.1% in 2007 to 32.1% in 2010); the highest decrease in the percentage of detectable residues was observed for oats (79.7% in 2007 to 45.5% in 2010). The percentage of samples exceeding the MRLs has increased from 2007 to 2010 for the following crops: leek, lettuce, oats, and tomatoes.”