While mainstream media sources often seem to downplay the importance of eating organic, more and more people continue to choose it as an alternative to “conventional” food laced with synthetic pesticides.
Many people are familiar with the Dirty Dozen and Clean Fifteen from the Environmental Working Group, a list that highlights the most important fruits and vegetables to buy organic in order to maximize your dollars (of course it’s always wise to buy all organic if you can afford it).
But despite the growing awareness of such lists, it’s also important to realize the importance of avoiding pesticide exposure in your food.
According to an article published this year in the peer-reviewed journal Nutrients, eating organic foods is associated with a rapid and dramatic reduction in urinary pesticide concentrations, which is an indicator of pesticide exposure.
Other studies have shown improved fertility and birth outcomes, a reduced incidence of non-Hodgkin lymphoma and a lower Body Mass Index (BMI) among those who consume organic foods, which are generally far lower in pesticide residue if not devoid of synthetic pesticides altogether.
Eating from the Clean Fifteen and especially avoiding the top five foods on this list are other ways to make sure you limit your pesticide intake.
The Top Five Pesticide Soaked Fruits and Vegetables in 2020
With such a striking level of pesticides on each of these “conventional” produce items, it would be wise to avoid them entirely (even though most people buy them non-organic without second thought). Here are the top five pesticide soaked fruits and vegetables to avoid, according to 2020 data from the Environmental Working Group:
1. Strawberries- Topping the list as they have often in recent years are strawberries, which may seem healthy at first glance but can actually be loaded with synthetic, toxic pesticides according to the EWG’s research.
More than 90 percent of all non-organic strawberry samples tested positive for two or more pesticides, according to the 2020 list. More than one-fourth of all strawberry samples were found to contain neonicotinoids, the pesticide-coated seeds that have been implicated in mass bee die-offs and banned throughout the European Union.
Organic strawberries are especially pricier but well worth the investment; buy them in season and freeze to save big money.
2. Spinach- In the 2020 tests, more than 90 percent of non-organic spinach samples tested positive for two or more pesticide residues.
Overall, spinach samples (along with the #3 food on this list, kale) contained 1.1 to 1.8 times as much pesticide residue by weight than any other crops tested.
3. Kale- Beginning in 2019, the USDA began finding residues of a highly toxic pesticide called DCPA, known under the brand name Dacthal, in this popular dark leafy green.
The EPA classifies this pesticide, just one of many potentially found on kale, as a possible human carcinogen. This little known but highly toxic pesticide was banned by the European Union in 2009.
Needless to say, this is one produce item you will always want to buy organic if you can find it, especially considering the price is relatively cheap for most varieties of organic kale at the grocery store. Multiple samples of kale showed residues of 18 different pesticides in 2020.
4. Nectarines- Similar to peaches with their soft, round shape and orange color, nectarines soak up pesticides like a sponge, making it important to always buy them organic or at the very least to limit consumption.
This year’s tests found more than 90 percent of all nectarine samples contained residues from two or more different pesticides.
5. Apples- Perhaps the most notable inclusion on this list is the apple, considering its reputation as a health food, and the lack of organic apple orchards for that matter. The vast majority of apple orchards remain “conventional,” and yet American apples were recently banned in Europe by regulators.
Over 47 pesticide residues were found in conventional apples by the USDA’s pesticide data program in 2010 and the crop is still heavily sprayed today. More than 90 percent of samples contained at least two or more pesticide residues.
Doesn’t exactly make for a healthy cup of apple juice now, does it?
Final Thoughts: You can easily find most of these top five most pesticide-laden fruits and vegetables in just about everyone’s kitchen, and that’s what makes them so dangerous to our health when consumed in large amounts over time.
Don’t forget to share this information with your friends who still consider these pesticide-soaked fruits and vegetables to be “health foods” and have no idea what this massive pesticide load may be doing to their health.