Pesticide Load on Produce

Eat your fruits and vegetables! The health benefits of a diet rich in fruits and vegetables outweigh the risks of pesticide exposure. Use this guide to pesticides to reduce your exposures as much as possible. This Guide will help you determine which fruits and vegetables have the most pesticide residues and are the most important to buy organic. You can lower your pesticide intake substantially by avoiding the 12 most contaminated fruits and vegetables and eating the least contaminated produce.

The Dirty Dozen has a Plus category to highlight two crops — green beans and leafy greens, meaning, kale and collard greens – that did not meet traditional Dirty Dozen criteria but were commonly contaminated with highly toxic organophosphate insecticides. These insecticides are toxic to the nervous system and have been largely removed from agriculture over the past decade; but they are not banned and still show up on some food crops.

Commodity crop corn used for animal feed and biofuels is almost all produced with genetically modified (GMO) seeds, as is some sweet corn sold for human consumption. Since GMO sweet corn is not labeled as such in US stores, I advise those who have concerns about GMOs to buy organic sweet corn.

DIRTY DOZEN PLUS                                  CLEAN (LOWEST IN PESTICIDES)

1/ Apples                                                                             1/ Onions

2/ Celery                                                                              2/ Sweet Corn (gmo’s)

3/ Sweet Bell peppers                                                   3/ Pineapple

4/ Peaches                                                                          4/ Avocado

5/ Strawberries                                                                 5/ Cabbage

6/ Nectarines (Imported)                                             6/ Sweet Peas

7/ Grapes                                                                            7/ Asparagus

8/ Spinach                                                                           8/ Mango

9/ Lettuce                                                                           9/ Eggplant

10/ Cucumbers                                                                 10/ Kiwi

11/ Blueberries- domestic                                            11/ Canteloupe- domestic

12/ Potatoes                                                                      12/ Sweet Potato

13/ Green Beans ++                                                        13/ Grapefruit

14/ Kale++                                                                          14/ Grapefruit

15/ Collard Greens+++                                                           15/ Watermelon

16/ Mushrooms

Lifewise recommends  buying  organic produce if you can – for adults and babies. But sometimes organic produce can cost more or isn’t available. You can use a product called “Nature CLean” produce wash, which will remove some of the residue. Eating required servings of fruits and vegetables per day from the Clean 15 list rather than from the Dirty Dozen, or buying organic, can lower your pesticide intake by up to 92 percent!


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