Yesterday’s edition of Mother Jones listed the top ten pesticide-laden fruit and vegetables available in the USA. While the list may vary from country to country, I suspect it still has relevance for most Western countries.
I’d clicked on the article just after biting into a conventional peach. It had the weirdest chemical flavour and I’d spat it out in disgust. My tastebuds certainly remind me why I buy organic whenever possible. So I wasn’t surprised to find that peaches topped the list in pesticide load.
The Environmental Working Group’s Shoppers Guide to Pesticides, that the Mother Jones article referenced, analysed 47 popular fruits and vegetables for pesticide contamination. Their results showed the following:
Top Seven Pesticide-laden Fruits
Grapes (imported, country of origin not listed)
Peaches had the most pesticides overall, with some having a combination of up to 53 pesticides found in a single peach. This was followed by apples with 50 pesticides and strawberries with 38.
Top Seven Pesticide-laden Vegetables
Sweet Bell pepper (capsicum)
Along with green beans and summer squash all the above fruits and vegetables had a score of over 50 out of possible 100 for overall pesticide load. Peaches got a perfect 100.
Are organic foods worth buying?
With rare exceptions, organically certified fruit and vegetables are more expensive to buy than their conventional counterparts, so investing in organic produce is a contentious issue. I’d suggest this list be used to prioritise your “organic only” purchases.
I tend to find that fruit, which has such a short seasonality when not stored for months in a cool room, is best bought and consumed at the height of its season. I’m happy to eat them organically grown, for a shorter window in the year than consume conventionally grown throughout the year.
Though broccoli and corn came further down the list, I also prioritise these vegetables for my “organic only” list on the advice of those who’ve had a background in conventional farming.
Is pesticides consumption dangerous for humans?
It seems that for every study demonstrating a link between health problems and pesticide ingestion, there is another showing the opposite. This is not uncommon when up against well resourced Goliaths like the petrochemical industry (or big Pharma). Consequently the evidence for and against is equally weighted. Considering what I know about scientific research, the evidence for avoiding unnecessary agricultural chemical exposure is compelling enough for me but only you can make that decision for yourself or your family.
This article by Shane Heaton is worth a read.