There’s a revolution happening in the food world.
Consumers have spoken. And we want to eat healthy, whole foods free of toxic pesticides.
However, food producers are not cooperating.
According to the 2014 study released by the Environmental Working Group (EWG), 75% of the produce sampled by the U.S. Department of Agriculture contains pesticide residues.
What does that mean for you?
Well, pesticides have been linked to cancer, brain toxicity, hormone disruptions and infant growth defects.
After the USDA tested 35,000 samples of fruits and vegetables, it’s more clear than ever:
Consumers must protect themselves against unwanted chemicals in their food.
To help you eat clean and healthy, here’s our list of the four most toxic fruits and veggies to avoid – and the four best to add to your diet. This information comes courtesy of EWG’s Shopper’s Guide to Pesticides in Produce, an analysis and report about the overall insecticide and pesticide levels in American produce.
In the last two years, strawberries have passed apples as the most toxic fruit in the American diet. A single sample of strawberries tested by the USDA showed 17 different types of pesticides.
The same tests found a shocking 146 different pesticides on thousands of different fruits and vegetables during the comprehensive 2014 study.
Yes, very startling … however, sadly, not unforeseeable.
“It’s important to remember that conventional agriculture relies heavily on insecticide,” says Sonya Lunder, Senior Analyst at the consumer protection agency EWG.
What can you do to avoid these nasty residues on your strawberries? It’s rather simple: Buy 100% organic.
Turns out an apple a day might not keep the doctor away. In fact, it might add up to some seriously bad health problems later in life.
As EWG shared analysis, “98% of the samples of strawberries, peaches, nectarines and apples tested had at least one type of pesticide residue.”
Washing fruit helps remove some pesticide residues, but the fact is that after repeat applications, much of the chemical compounds have seeped into the skin of the fruit.
Though the average potato shows more pesticides than any other vegetable, it’s actually the lightest of leafy greens that really wilt under the weight of pesticides.
The salad-favorite spinach ranks at #3 on the EWG’s “Dirty Dozen” contaminated food list. Kale and collard greens share spot #10 together.
Large-leafed greens have more surface area through which to absorb pesticide sprays. 2007 and 2008 studies by the USDA found 51 pesticides on kale and 41 pesticides on collard greens.
At the time of study, these highly toxic pesticides were found:
Chlorpyrifos and esfenvalerate are still widely used today.
DDE, dieldrin and organochlorine pesticides were banned by the 1996 Food Quality Protection Act for damaging brain development and intelligence in young children. Yet these chemicals remain in agricultural ground soils today – and, hence, the pesticide-heavy potatoes.
The EWG encourages consumers who love leafy greens to buy from organic farms to avoid persistent toxic pesticides.
Hot and sweet peppers are both frequently found to be contaminated with pesticides and insecticides toxic to the human nervous system. Two dangerous chemicals stand out:
After testing 739 samples of hot pepper between 2010-2011, the USDA found residues of highly toxic insecticides - acephate, chlorpyrifos, oxamyl - at concerning levels. These toxins are banned in other crops, but are still allowed on hot peppers.
Organophosphate is a neurotoxin and a pesticide. According to a study by Columbia’s Children’s Hospital, it was shown to decrease infant birth weights and impair pregnancy in a study of 300 mothers exposed to it during pregnancy.
Again, the only way to avoid the damage is to buy 100% organic peppers.
According to EWG’s “Clean 15” food list, only 1% of avocados sampled show any detectable pesticides. Their thick outer skin prevents pesticides from touching the fruit inside.
Avocados are also a toxin-free food because they grow in specific climates that don’t have many crop pests. Eating foods that are grown in natural soils in a natural habitat keep the pesticide and insecticide levels down.
That’s more proof that sustainable and organic is the way to go, especially when it comes with all the antioxidants and healthy omega-3 fatty acids found in an avocado.
89% of pineapples studied by the USDA and EWG displayed zero pesticide residues.
Pineapple is a great source of nutrients:
It’s also the only plant source of bromelain. Bromelain is associated with enhanced immune function, cancer prevention, wound healing and gut health.
Unlike Hawaiian papayas (most of which are GMOs), pineapples are cultivated in the natural climates of tropical islands in an organic setting without need for chemical interference or protections.
Cabbage is chock full of dietary fiber and these amazing micronutrients:
As a cruciferous vegetable, cabbage is in the same family as kale and contains similar antioxidant properties. A study from Holland found that cabbage protects against colon cancer in women.
Purple cabbage contains anthocyanins, and is being studied by researchers for perceived anti-carcinogenic properties.
Onions are not only free of most pesticides, but are full of flavonoids and polyphenol antioxidants. These compounds prevent cancer, heart disease and stop signs of sun-damage and aging.
An allium vegetable like garlic, onions deliver lots of potassium, phosphorous, vitamin C and dietary fiber.
Though you needn’t buy organic onions, a study done at the University of Washington shows that people who eat organic produce, eat fewer pesticides. Those who reported “often or always” buying organic produce, showed much lower levels of pesticides in urine. Despite the fact that they consumed 70% more fruits and vegetables than those who “rarely or never” ate organic product.
Steering clear of pesticides is important for long-term health. Over a lifetime of fruits and veggies, pesticide residues can really add up. To overcome health issues, buy organic foods and produce from the “Clean 15” list. By consuming clean and toxin-free foods, you’ll both stay away from harmful chemicals as well as be rid of GMOs and other processed dietary compounds. Many who value their health choose to supplement with organic greens to ensure that their micronutrients and nutritional cofactors are 100% met. Let’s all be conscious about our bites. Stay healthy and advocate for detoxed produce by only buying clean food.