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How to Choose Safe from Pesticide Fruits and Vegetables

Kathleen Blanchard's picture

The Environmental Working Group (EWG) has released a list of fruits and vegetables safe from pesticide that will also help you save money. Some fruits and vegetables should be purchased organic to avoid the risk of ingesting pesticides that can harm health. Children and unborn babies are especially susceptible. The list includes what the EWG refers to as the “dirty dozen” and the “clean fifteen” to help consumers choose pesticide safe fruits and vegetables.

If you eat the recommended five servings of fruits and vegetables daily you are exposing yourself to 10 pesticides every day that can harm human health and the health of unborn babies and children. Choosing fruits and vegetables from the ‘clean fifteen’ will limit pesticide exposure to two pesticides a day or less.

Rinsing and peeling vegetables can help reduce pesticide exposure. For many fruits and vegetables getting rid of the peel also eliminates nutrients. Rinsing does not eliminate pesticides but it can cut down on the amount of the harmful substances you ingest.

The Environmental Working Group conducted almost 96000 tests for pesticide residue on fruits and vegetables from U.S. Department of Agriculture and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration between 2000 and 2008 to compose their list that can help consumers choose safe fruits and vegetables that are pesticide free or low in harmful chemicals.

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Twelve fruits and vegetables to buy organic that are otherwise dirty and result in ingestion of high levels of pesticides include, in the following order: Celery, peaches, strawberries, apples, blueberries, nectarines, bell peppers, spinach, kale, cherries, potatoes and imported grapes.

Fruits and vegetables that are low in pesticides and on the 'clean fifteen' list include onions, avocado, sweet corn, pineapple, mangos, sweet peas, asparagus, kiwi, cabbage, eggplant, cantaloupe, watermelon, grapefruit, sweet potato and honeydew melon.

Shopping for organic food can be expensive. Sorting out which fruits and vegetables are safe from pesticides can help consumers make informed choices to protect health and well being. Regardless of which choices made, it is important to rinse all fruits and vegetables before consuming them. Another guideline is to buy organic whenever possible. Organic fruits and vegetables are not higher in nutrition but can keep you healthier by reducing daily exposure to pesticides. Toxic chemicals and pesticides take a toll on health that occurs over time.

According to the EPA herbicides, fungicides, and various other substances used to control pests are considered pesticides that can harm health and used regularly to grow fruits and vegetables. Pesticides are all around us. They are in the pool, in the home, on the lawn, and in our kitchens and baths. We inhale, eat and absorb pesticides through the skin. Infants and children are especially susceptible to the negative health effects – data about the long-term health effects of pesticides are still being evaluated by the EPA. Some can cause cancer and others can cause neurological problems. Others disrupt the endocrine system. The National Cancer Institute says that two thirds of cancers are from environmental exposure to carcinogens, such as pesticides.

Consider the prediction of almost 21.4 million new cases and over 13.2 million deaths from cancer expected to occur by the year 2030, findings just released by International Agency for Research on Cancer. It only makes sense to limit your exposure to pesticides by understanding how to choose safe fruits and vegetables. The list compiled by the Environmental Working Group can help consumers sort through which fruits and vegetables are safe.

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