There is growing consensus in the scientific community that small doses of pesticides and other chemicals can adversely affect people, especially during vulnerable periods of fetal development and childhood when exposures can have long lasting effects. Because the toxic effects of pesticides are worrisome, not well understood, or in some cases completely unstudied, shoppers are wise to minimize exposure to pesticides whenever possible.

Organic fruits and vegetables are by definition grown without the use of pesticides. But some find the expense of organic foods prohibitive.

The Environmental Working Group, a nonprofit organisation that advocates for policies that protect global and individual health, produces the Shoppers’ Guide to Pesticides in Produce. It is based on the results of nearly 43,000 pesticide tests.

Of the 43 different fruit and vegetable categories in the Guide to Pesticides, the following twelve foods had the lowest pesticide load when conventionally grown. Consequently, they are the safest conventionally grown crops to consume:

•    Broccoli
•    Eggplant
•    Cabbage
•    Banana
•    Kiwi
•    Asparagus
•    Sweet peas (frozen)
•    Mango
•    Pineapple
•    Sweet corn (frozen)
•    Avocado
•    Onion

The dozen with the highest pesticide loads and which should be avoided unless organic:

•    Peaches
•    Apples
•    Sweet Bell Peppers
•    Celery
•    Nectarines
•    Strawberries
•    Cherries
•    Lettuce
•    Grapes (Imported)
•    Pears
•    Spinach
•    Potatoes

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.

The Medical Sanctuary Holistic Medical Centre


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