The 2019 Dirty Dozen™ List is out! Here is the list of foods that contain the most pesticide residues:
The list is released each year by the Environmental Working Group (EWG), a nonprofit consumer advocacy organization which uses more than 40,000 produce samples tested by the Food and Drug Administration and the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
WHAT’S SO BAD ABOUT PESTICIDES?
Pesticide exposure has been linked to childhood cancer, brain disorders such as ADHD/ autism/ dyslexia, and infertility. The pesticide industry and chemical agriculture insist that pesticides on produce are nothing to worry about, but doctors and scientists strongly disagree.
Dr. Philippe Grandjean, adjunct professor of environmental health at Harvard and lead author of a 2014 study linking synthetic chemicals and brain disorders, is concerned because even ordinary (undiagnosed) children are often affected. “The greatest concern is the large numbers of children who are affected by toxic damage to brain development in the absence of a formal diagnosis… They suffer reduced attention span, delayed development, and poor school performance. Industrial chemicals are now emerging as likely causes.”
WHAT SHOULD I DO?
Here are some practical tips to help you make smart choices for you and your family:
- For produce heavily laden with pesticide residues (see the Dirty Dozen™ list above), buy organic. Reduce pesticide exposure, especially in children and if you are trying to conceive. “Even low levels of pesticide exposure can be harmful to infants, babies and young children, so when possible, parents and caregivers should take steps to lower children’s exposures to pesticides while still feeding them diets rich in healthy fruits and vegetables,” said Dr. Philip Landrigan of the Mt. Sinai School of Medicine.
- If buying fully organic is not in your budget, familiarize yourself with the Clean 15™ list. Foods on this list are least likely to contain pesticide residues, so you can buy conventional produce without worrying about excessive pesticide exposure. The Clean 15™: avocado, corn, pineapple, frozen sweet peas, onion, papaya, eggplant, asparagus, kiwi, cabbage, cauliflower, cantaloupe, broccoli, mushrooms, honeydew melon.
- Plain water will not wash away pesticide residues on produce. Try soaking fruits and vegetables in a plain white vinegar solution (4 parts water + 1 part vinegar) for 15 to 30 minutes. You may scrub produce with skin (e.g. apples) with a scrubby brush after they are done soaking. Rinse thoroughly before consuming. A salt water soak (1 tsp salt + 2 to 3 cups of water) can also be used to reduce chemical residues on produce. But note that no washing method is 100% effective for removing all pesticide residues.
Fruits and vegetables are an important part of our diet. They contain numerous vitamins, minerals and plant chemicals that keep us healthy. A diet high in fruits and vegetables can help protect against cancer, diabetes, heart disease and premature death. But be aware of produce which are heavily contaminated with pesticides. Start making smart consumer choices today.