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March 26, 2010 at 4:11 PMComments: 1 Faves: 1

Pesticides in Produce - The Worst Offenders and the Safest Bets

By Erin Froehlich More Blogs by This Author

The organic foods market is one of the fastest growing industries around, and for good reason. Not long ago, people knew where their food came from, how it was produced and mostly likely also knew who grew it. Today we live in a different world, a world where profits can unfortunately be given greater attention than the people paying.

For too long, companies tried to hide their use of pesticides and denied the negative effects they can cause. However, a growing pool of research is revealing just how dangerous pesticide usage is and people are becoming wise. Scientists are finding that the chemicals used to increase production, despite what the companies themselves may tell you, are in fact harmful.

They can cause long-lasting health damage, especially during fetal development and early childhood when defenses are lower. Scientists now recommend that people avoid or minimize consumption of produce grown with pesticides. In an ideal world, everything we eat would be organically grown. Unfortunately, the healthy organic choice is not always the most economical.

Most people simply can't afford to buy everything organic. When you have to make the cut, how do you know what to choose? Below are two lists to help you decide when to buy organic and when it's probably OK to stick with conventional.

The Worst Offenders

These common fruits and vegetables have been identified as the worst offenders.

#9. Lettuce

  • Lettuce can contain up to nine types of pesticides in a single sample.
  • 57 different types of pesticides are used on lettuce.

#8. Apricots

  • Apricots often contain high levels of captan, a pesticide known to cause cancer.
  • They also contain high levels of endosulfan and carbaryl, both hormone disrupters.

#7. Carrots

  • 82.3% of conventionally grown carrots tested positive for pesticides.
  • 40 different types of pesticides are currently being used on carrots.

#6. Strawberries

  • There are 38 different types of pesticides used on strawberries.
  • There can be up to 8 types of pesticides on a single fruit!

#5. Nectarines

  • 97.3% of conventional nectarines tested positive for pesticides.
  • 85.3% had multiple types of pesticides on them.

#4. Celery

  • 81% of conventionally grown celery had detectable pesticide residues on them.
  • 94.1% of conventionally grown celery tested positive for pesticides.
  • Celery is more likely than any other vegetable to have multiple pesticides on it, 79.8% do!
  • Celery had one of the highest number of pesticides in a single sample, 9 types on one stalk!

#3. Bell Peppers

  • Bell peppers are more contaminated with neurotoxic insecticides than any other crop analyzed.
  • Bell peppers had up to 11 different pesticides on a single sample.
  • 81.5% of bell peppers tested positive for pesticides.
  • 62.2% of bell peppers have more than one type of pesticide on them.
  • 64 different types of pesticides are used on bell peppers.

#2. Apples

  • 94.1% of conventionally grown apples are contaminated with pesticides.
  • Apples are one of the top three produce crops most likely to contain multiple contaminants, 82.3% had two or more present.
  • Apples and peaches tied for highest number of pesticides on a single sample, 9.
  • Apples have 50 different types of pesticides being used on them.

#1. Peaches

  • 96.7% of conventionally grown peaches tested positive for pesticides.
  • Peaches are the produce most likely to have multiple pesticides in them, 87% had two or more.
  • Peaches and apples tied for the highest number of different pesticides detected on them, up to nine on a single sample.
  • Overall, peaches had the highest number of different pesticides used on them - 53 different types.
  • Many contain heavy doses of the fungicides captan and iprodione, known to cause cancer.
  • Many contain methyl parathion, a neurotoxic pesticide.
  • Peaches are actually relatively low in nutrients, so they may not be as well worth the risk as others.

The Safest Bets

Because of their tough outer layer, the vast majority of these chemicals can be removed through a simple rinse or peel: Onion, Avocado, Sweet Corn, Pineapple, Mango, Asparagus, Sweet Peas, Kiwi, Cabbage, Eggplant, Papaya, Watermelon, Broccoli.


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1 Comment

  • Wow, this was a really informative, and scary article! I buy some things organic, but I see I will have to buy more of them, specifically for me, bell peppers and lettuce. I am going to print out this guide, though. Thanks!

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