Pesticides in Produce: Are Your Faves on The Dirty Dozen List?

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Know how to shop for vegetables and fruits with lower pesticide levelsBy Kristin Sidorov
Eating your fruits and veggies may not be as simple as you think, according to a new report from the Environmental Working Group. Warning consumers against the “dirty dozen” — fruits and vegetables most likely to be contaminated with pesticides — it’s an eye-opening study that highlights what really goes into the production of food, and what it means for your family’s health.

Recent studies have shown possible associations between pesticide consumption and attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder, an increased risk of some cancers, and lowered child IQ when pregnant mothers are exposed. Standard farming practices include the generous use of pesticides to keep fruits and veggies looking unblemished and shiny — just how we like them.

And although the EWG’s report points to these risks, it is by no means a blacklist and it certainly doesn’t suggest limiting the amount of fresh, healthy produce you consume. On the contrary: It’s now recommended that half of every meal consist of fruits and vegetables. Instead, the list is intended to guide you in making smart, informed decisions. Being aware of the pesticide content of everyday foods helps you to know what to look for — and how to get the healthiest bang for your buck.

The Dirty Dozen
1. Apples
2. Celery
3. Strawberries
4. Peaches
5. Spinach
6. Nectarines (imported)
7. Grapes (imported)
8. Sweet bell peppers
9. Potatoes
10. Blueberries (domestic)
11. Lettuce
12. Kale/collard greens

The Clean Fifteen
1. Onions
2. Sweet corn
3. Pineapples
4. Avocados
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

For many, the high price of going all-organic, all-the-time simply isn’t an option. But prioritizing your shopping to include a few organic favorites, like apples, spinach and other non-organic items (like onions, avocados, and asparagus) will make you both savvy and healthy.

More on Shopping for Produce
Food Safety Tips for a Healthy Summer
Farmers’ Market Shopping Checklist

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