Monday, June 13, 2011

The Dirty Dozen versus the Clean 15 (Pesticides in Produce)

Today, the Environmental Working Group, an advocacy nonprofit, released its latest "Dirty Dozen" list of the 12 fruits and vegetables that are most contaminated with pesticides, as an update to its 2010 rankings. And taking first place this year? Apples. The ubiquitous fruit beat out last year's top spot, which went to celery (now at number two).

The health benefits of fruits and vegetables are, without a doubt, a known fact -- reinstating the message was last month's release of the USDA's MyPlate food pyramid replacement, which suggests filling half of your plate with fruits and vegetables.

But the potentially darker side of fruits and vegetables is centered around concerns about their pesticide loads, which some studies have linked to possible health problems, particularly among women who are pregnant and children. So when organic foods typically carry a higher price tag, what's a frugal shopper to do?

"Picking five servings of fruits and vegetables from the 12 most contaminated would cause you to consume an average of 14 different pesticides a day," the group reports in its findings, which were based on data collected by the United States Departure of Agriculture of food samples that often were ready to be eaten (meaning that they had already been peeled or washed as necessary).

The trade association for the produce industry charged that it is irresponsible to mislead consumers with a sensational publicity stunt disguised as science.  I say  BUY ORGANIC if you're buying off this list of 12...OMG!

1. Apples - According to the EWG report, nearly 98 percent of apples tested positive for pesticides and 92 percent contained two or more.
2. Celery - Ranked the "dirtiest" vegetable, more than 95 percent of celery samples tested positive for pesticides, while almost 90 percent contained more than one pesticide.
3. Strawberries - 13 different types of pesticides were found on a single strawberry sample in the analysis.
4. Peaches -
More than 85 percent of peaches contained the residue of more than one pesticide -- "As a category, peaches have been treated with more pesticides than any other produce, registering combinations of up to 57 different chemicals," according to the "Methodology" section of the report.
5. Spinach - Spinach is the second vegetable on the list, after celery.
6. Nectarines - Every nectarine sample tested positive for pesticides, according to EWG.
7. Imported Grapes - While domestic grapes didn't make the "dirty dozen" list, imported grapes turned up 14 different types of pesticides on a single sample.
8. Sweet Bell Peppers - Almost 70 percent of sweet bell peppers contained multiple pesticides.
9. Potatoes - More than 91 percent of potatoes tested positive for pesticides.
10. Domestic Blueberries - Blueberries are the sixth and final fruit on the dirty dozen list.
11. Lettuce - Lettuce is among the vegetables most likely to retain pesticides, according to EWG.
12. Kale/Collard Greens - Rounding out the dirty dozen list is kale/collard greens.
 
On the flip side, EWG writes that choosing foods from their counterpart "Clean 15" list will slash the pesticide volume by more than 90 percent. Topping the "Clean 15" were onions, sweet corn, pineapples and avocado. 

1. Onions
2. Sweet Corn
3. Pineapples
4. Avocado
5. Asparagus
6. Sweet Peas
7. Mangoes
8. Eggplant
9. Cantaloupe - Domestic
10. Kiwi
11. Cabbage
12. Watermelon
13. Sweet Potatoes
14. Grapefruit
15. Mushrooms