… And 15 Organic Foods You Can Skip
The Environmental Working Group (EWG) analyzed 45 popular fruits and vegetables for pesticide residues, using data from more than 60,700 samples taken by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the U.S. Food and Dug Administration (FDA).
The analysis looked at pesticide levels after the produce had been washed and/or peeled, and still it found pesticide residues on 68 percent of the food sampled.[i]
Pesticides on Your Food: What’s the Problem?
Pesticides have been linked to numerous health risks, including:
- Brain and nervous system toxicity
- Hormone disruption
- Skin, eye and lung irritation
Among the most concerning, and also most commonly used, class of pesticides are organophosphates, which work by interfering with the nervous system. Exposure to such pesticides, at levels common among U.S. children, have been linked with attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD),[ii] impaired perceptual reasoning, lower intelligence scores and other learning and memory problems in kids.
Pesticides have been detected in more than 96 percent of Americans age 6 and older, and an EWG analysis of government data revealed more than 60 percent of Americans tested positive for pesticides and pesticide metabolites that can contaminate fresh produce.[iii] Eating organic foods is one of the best ways to reduce your exposure to these pesticides, as studies show that when children switched to an all-organic diet, their bodies became pesticide-free in a matter of days.
That said, not everyone has access to organic produce, or has the resources to buy it. So your best bet, if you can’t choose all organic, is to prioritize which foods to buy organic based on how many pesticides they contain.
EWG’s report has ranked some of the most popular produce in America accordingly so you can make smart shopping choices for your family.
Top 12 Foods to Buy Organic
These were the produce items that contained the most pesticides. Buy these organic whenever possible:
11. Blueberries, domestic
6. Nectarines, imported
3. Sweet bell peppers
Also included on EWG’s “buy organic” list were two “bonus” items: green beans and leafy greens such as kale and collard greens. These, in particular, were commonly contaminated with the organophosphate insecticides described above.
Top 15 Foods You Don’t Need to Buy Organic
If you need to pick and choose which foods to buy organic, those that follow can be left off the organic list, as they ranked lowest in pesticide contamination among the produce tested:
12. Sweet potatoes
11. Cantaloupe, domestic
6. Sweet peas
2. Sweet corn (Note: if you are concerned about genetically modified (GM) foods, GM sweet corn is not labeled in the United States. To ensure your sweet corn is not GM, you’d have to buy it organic.)
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