Quantcast
Environmental News for a Healthier Planet and Life

5 Facts You Should Know About Pesticides on Fruits and Vegetables

Food
5 Facts You Should Know About Pesticides on Fruits and Vegetables

A healthy diet begins with lots of fruits and vegetables, but some of your family's favorites may contain startling amounts of harmful pesticides.

Non-organic farmers spray synthetic pesticides on crops to kill weeds and insects—and the toxicity doesn't stop there. As they grow, plants absorb pesticides and residues linger on fruit and vegetable skins all the way to your kitchen, even after you wash them.

A healthy diet begins with lots of fruits and vegetables, but some of your family's favorites may contain startling amounts of harmful pesticides.

In the 2016 edition of its Shopper's Guide to Pesticides in Produce, the Environmental Working Group (EWG) breaks down the latest research on pesticide levels on fruits and vegetables and how you can make smart choices for your family.

Here's what you should know:

1. Eating foods with traces of pesticides is bad for your health—especially for kids.

Although the full scope of the threat is not yet known, research confirms that pesticide exposure can harm us in serious ways. Conventional growers use synthetic pesticides that can damage our brain and nervous system, disrupt our hormones and contribute to cancer.

In developing children, pesticide exposure contributes to neurological problems, which impair learning, memory and attention.

Kids eat more food than adults relative to their size and are less capable of processing chemicals that enter their small bodies. Both factors make them especially vulnerable to the hazardous effects of these chemicals.

2. Some fruits and vegetables have a lot of pesticide on them. Others aren't so bad.

And you might be surprised which are which. In the Shopper's Guide to Pesticides in Produce, EWG names the fresh fruits and veggies that contain the highest and lowest amounts of pesticides when you bring them home from the market.

EWG analyzed data from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), whose tests revealed traces of at least one pesticide on nearly 75 percent of fruit and vegetable samples tested in 2014, the most recent year available.

Topping the Dirty Dozen list this year are strawberries, followed by apples, nectarines, peaches, celery and grapes. On the Clean Fifteen list, heart-healthy avocados take the number one spot. (That's especially good news for babies, since avocados make an excellent early solid food).

Click here to view the full lists.

3. There's more than one way to protect your family from pesticide on produce.

The surest way to limit pesticides on your fruits and veggies is to buy USDA-certified organic varieties, but these can be costly and hard to find.

We recommend buying organic whenever you can, but if your options are limited or your budget is tight, consult EWG's list and start prioritizing your purchases.

Strawberries and apples? Organic is best. Avocados and pineapple? Conventional is a good and healthy option.

4. Washing produce is a must—but it doesn't completely remove pesticide residues.

Some people think that thoroughly washing fruits and vegetables will remove all traces of pesticides. Cleaning produce removes dirt, traces of human handling and reduces some pesticides—but not all of them.

USDA tests fruit and vegetables as we typically eat them: washed and, when applicable, peeled (bananas, for example). That means EWG's Dirty Dozen and Clean Fifteen lists reflect pesticide levels on produce after it's already been washed.

Pesticide levels are even higher when fruits and veggies aren't washed, so rub your produce under running water before eating, even when you buy organic.

5. It's always a good choice to feed your family fruits and vegetables, whether conventional or organic.

Eating plenty of fruits and vegetables is one of the healthiest choices we can make, yet far too few people do. Less than a third of adults get the recommended daily amount—at least two servings of fruit and three servings of vegetables—according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The rates are even lower for teens.

While it's important to minimize your exposure to pesticides, regularly eating fruits and vegetables is the far bigger win for you and your loved ones.

YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE

Big Ag Fights to the Bitter End to Keep Pesticide From Being Banned

How Kind Bars Are Helping Push the FDA to Reconsider What 'Healthy' Means

Is Roundup Sprayed at Your Local Park?

Results of Glyphosate Pee Test Are in 'And It's Not Good News'

A dugong, also called a sea cow, swims with golden pilot jacks near Marsa Alam, Egypt, Red Sea. Alexis Rosenfeld / Getty Images

In 2010, world leaders agreed to 20 targets to protect Earth's biodiversity over the next decade. By 2020, none of them had been met. Now, the question is whether the world can do any better once new targets are set during the meeting of the UN Convention on Biodiversity in Kunming, China later this year.

Read More Show Less

EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

President Joe Biden signs executive orders in the State Dining Room at the White House on Jan. 22, 2021 in Washington, DC. Jabin Botsford / The Washington Post via Getty Images

By Andrew Rosenberg

The first 24 hours of the administration of President Joe Biden were filled not only with ceremony, but also with real action. Executive orders and other directives were quickly signed. More actions have followed. All consequential. Many provide a basis for not just undoing actions of the previous administration, but also making real advances in public policy to protect public health, safety, and the environment.

Read More Show Less

Trending

Melting ice forms a lake on free-floating ice jammed into the Ilulissat Icefjord during unseasonably warm weather on July 30, 2019 near Ilulissat, Greenland. Sean Gallup / Getty Images

A first-of-its-kind study has examined the satellite record to see how the climate crisis is impacting all of the planet's ice.

Read More Show Less
Probiotic rich foods. bit245 / iStock / Getty Images Plus

By Ana Maldonado-Contreras

Takeaways

  • Your gut is home to trillions of bacteria that are vital for keeping you healthy.
  • Some of these microbes help to regulate the immune system.
  • New research, which has not yet been peer-reviewed, shows the presence of certain bacteria in the gut may reveal which people are more vulnerable to a more severe case of COVID-19.

You may not know it, but you have an army of microbes living inside of you that are essential for fighting off threats, including the virus that causes COVID-19.

Read More Show Less
Michael Mann photo inset by Joshua Yospyn.

By Jeff Masters, Ph.D.

The New Climate War: the fight to take back our planet is the latest must-read book by leading climate change scientist and communicator Michael Mann of Penn State University.

Read More Show Less