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Pesticides in Produce


A Good Reason to Buy



There has been a growing concern about pesticide use on our food and for good reason. In the studies that have been done, pesticides have been shown to have adverse affect on people, especially developing children. Pesticides are toxic chemicals and their detrimental affects have only begun to be studied and have not been publicized enough. The recommendations we found suggest we try to avoid exposure to chemicals on food whenever possible. This is a good reason to buy organic.


One report we found was extremely helpful in deciphering the scientific evidence and advising us on which produce to avoid, unless organic. By searching through the data, they were able to develop a ranking of produce, according to residue found on certain produce.


The produce ranking was developed by analysts at the not-for-profit Environmental Working Group (EWG) based on the results of nearly 43,000 tests for pesticides on produce collected by the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration between 2000 and 2004. EWG is a not-for-profit environmental research organization dedicated to improving public health and protecting the environment by reducing pollution in air, water and food.


For more information please visit www.ewg.org. EWG developed the helpful chart to the right make shopping easier.


Will washing and peeling help?

Nearly all of the data used to create these lists already considers how people typically wash and prepare produce (for example, apples are washed before testing, bananas are peeled). While washing and rinsing fresh produce may reduce levels of some pesticides, it does not eliminate them. Peeling also reduces exposures, but valuable nutrients often go down the drain with the peel. The best option is to eat a varied diet, wash all produce, and choose organic when possible to reduce exposure to potentially harmful chemicals.


To get your own guide, go to http://www.foodnews.org/pdf/EWG_pesticide.pdf.


Note: They ranked a total of 43 different fruits and vegetables but grapes are listed twice because we looked at both domestic and imported samples.


By DeAnna Holman




RANK                                                Fruit or Veggie                                SCORE


1 (worst)                                 Peaches                                100 (highest pesticide)

2                                              Apples                                    96

3                                              Sweet Bell Peppers              86

4                                              Celery                                     85

5                                              Nectarines                             84

6                                              Strawberries                          83

7                                              Cherries                                 75

8                                              Lettuce                                   69

9                                              Grapes (imported)                68

10                                            Pears                                     65

11                                            Spinach                                 60

12                                            Potatoes                                58

13                                            Carrots                                   57

14                                            Green Beans                         55

15                                            Hot Peppers                          53

16                                            Cucumbers                            52

17                                            Raspberries                          47

18                                            Plums                                     46

19                                            Oranges                                 46

20                                            Grapes-Domestic                 46

21                                            Cauliflower                             39

22                                            Tangerine                               38

23                                            Mushrooms                            37

24                                            Cantaloupe                            34

25                                            Lemon                                    31

26                                            Honeydew Melon                  31

27                                            Grapefruit                              31

28                                            Winter Squash                      31

29                                            Tomatoes                              30

30                                            Sweet Potatoes                    30

31                                            Watermelon                           25

32                                            Blueberries                            24

33                                            Papaya                                   21

34                                            Eggplant                                 19

35                                            Broccoli                                  18

36                                            Cabbage                                17

37                                            Bananas                                 16

38                                            Kiwi                                         14

39                                            Asparagus                              11

40                                            Sweet Peas-Frozen              11

41                                            Mango                                     9

42                                            Pineapples                             7

43                                            Sweet Corn-frozen                 2

44                                            Avocado                                 1

45 (best)                                 Onions                                    1 (lowest pesticide)

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