2016 Dirty Dozen List
Here it is the list that helps you use your food $ to go toward filling your stomach and increasing your health. See you at the local farmers markets this year!
Environmental Working Group (EWG) uses the latest pesticide residue data from government testing to create a list of fruits and vegetables with the highest pesticide loads. It’s important to note that even after being washed or sometimes even peeled, residues levels remained. That’s because many pesticides are systemic, meaning they are taken up inside of the plant, becoming part of the actual fruit or veggie. The most pesticide-contaminated produce items are:
- Sweet bell peppers
- Cherry tomatoes
EWG also found that nonorganic hot peppers, kale and collard greens contain trace levels of particularly toxic pesticides. Opt for organic versions of these veggies, too.
EWG analyzed 2014 pesticide data from United States Department of Agriculture annual testing. Here are some key takeaways:
- 98 percent of strawberry samples, peaches, nectarines and apples tested positive for at least one pesticide residue.
- The average potato had more pesticides by weight than any other produce.
- A single grape sample and a sweet bell pepper sample contained 15 pesticides.
- A single samples of strawberries detected 17 different pesticides; the average strawberry tests positive for 5.75 different pesticides.
2016 Clean 15 List
While it’s important to choose organic whenever possible, that may not always be an option. Crunching the same data used to come up with the 2016 Dirty Dozen list, EWG also shares a list of 15 produce items least likely to harbor pesticide residues. (Only 1 percent of avocado samples showed any detectable pesticides.)
- Sweet corn
- Frozen sweet peas
- Honeydew melon
I recommend opting for organic sweet corn and papayas, though, because they are common GMO crops.
Pesticide Health Threats We Can’t Ignore
Our country represents less than 2 percent of the world’s population, but we use 24 percent of its pesticides. The widespread use of these pesticides, combined with the presence in our lives and diets of genetically modified crops, food additives and preservatives, and even household cleaners and beauty products, has created a dangerous toxic load in our bodies that has degraded our gut health and overall immunity.
These are just a few conditions linked to pesticide exposure:
- Brain, prostate & other cancers
- Miscarriage and birth defects
- Parkinson’s disease
- Intestinal permeability, also known as leaky gut
Final Thoughts on the 2016 Dirty Dozen List
This list should in no way deter you from eating fruits and vegetables. However, it does highlight the dangers of modern chemical farming. Using chemicals to fumigate the soil and kill weeds and bugs has some unwanted side effects, including killing soil health and beneficial microbes.
Pesticides are linked to dozens of health problems, including certain cancers, ADHD, autism, Parkinson’s and a whole host of other issues.
We can’t veggie wash or peel our way out of the problem, since many toxic pesticides are systemic and actually become part of produce. Choose organic whenever possible — organic food is growth without the use of toxic chemical fertilizers and pesticides, human sewage sludge and GMO seeds.
To keep costs down, look for organic foods in season at your local farmer’s market, or try starting a small vegetable garden of your own. Even large grocery store chains are expanding contracts with organic farmers to help meet demand for chemical-free food, meaning your organic options should continue to grow.