The Dirty Dozen

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Have you heard of the dirty dozen?

And I am not talking about you and 11 of your friends.

The dirty dozen is a list of fruits and veggies that contain the highest amount of pesticide residue.  This list is released annually by the Environmental working group (EWG) and is based on results of more than 35,200 samples tested by the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the Food and Drug Administration.

The Dirty Dozen

Cherry Tomatoes
Snap peas
Sweet Bell Peppers

The EWG released this summary for the 2016 shopper’s guide to pesticides in produce.

Some key findings include:

  • 99 percent of apple samples, 98 percent of peaches, and 97 percent of nectarines tested positive for at least one pesticide residue.
  • A single grape sample and a sweet bell pepper sample contained 15 pesticides.
  • Single samples of cherry tomatoes, nectarines, peaches, imported snap peas and strawberries showed 13 different pesticides a piece.

Studies on pesticides have linked numerous health conditions to long-term pesticide exposure.  I don’t want to doom and gloom you but it is important to be aware.  So, here’s a list of conditions that scientists believe to be associated with pesticide exposure.

ADHD in kids
Alzheimer’s disease
Birth defects
Breast cancer
Fertility Issues
Immune system damage
Low IQ in kids
Ovarian cancer
Parkinson’s disease
Prostate cancer
Respiratory problems

Depressing, right?

Here are a few ways to be proactive and cut back on pesticide exposure.

1. Grow your own produce. Get out there and start a garden (one of my happiest places).  If a garden is not possible, grow some veggies in pots on your deck or in a sunny window.

2. Visit your local farmer’s market.  You can buy organic and support your local farmers. This is a win-win.

3. Buy organic. Organic foods are not sprayed with harmful pesticides and are not exposed to chemical fertilizers.

4. Wash your produce very well.  This produce wash will remove up to 98% of pesticide residue off of your fruits and veggies.  You can also lightly scrub your hard skinned fruits with chemical free dish soap.

Buying organic food is more expensive than conventionally grown food.  So, if you need to prioritize your organic purchases, try to at least buy the organic versions of the dirty dozen. Knowing what chemicals are on your food will help you make the best choices for your family and will reduce the exposure to toxic pesticides.


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