After five years of topping the list, apples have officially been dethroned as the most pesticide-loaded produce. The new fruit that tops the Environmental Working Group's list of the "Dirty Dozen" -- strawberries. One of Nature's most potent packages of health-defending antioxidants, this sad news is not only maddening, it demonstrates, once again, the danger posed to the public's health when food becomes a commodity.
According to the EWG's 2016 list, which relies on data from the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the Food and Drug Administration (USDA), the scientists found 98 percent of strawberries tested contained at least one pesticide, and one sample even contained 17 different varieties. The reason cited for the move to the top of the chart? The growers' desire to make the once-seasonal fruit available year-round. With that economic potential in play, pesticide use increased. Obviously these growers care little for the quality of food they produce.
Unfortunately strawberries aren't the only dirty fruit on your grocer's shelf. The 12 most pesticide-contaminated conventionally-grown fruits and vegetables, known as The Dirty Dozen are:
Sweet bell peppers
When thinking about purchasing any of the above, consider organic instead. (look for the number 9 on the small sticker affixed on the fruit or veggie. That means it's organic. The number 4 means it's conventionally grown -- usually cultivated with pesticides.) If you can't afford or can't find organic wash thoroughly and peel the produce.
The Clean Fifteen which are considered safe produce.
Sweet peas (frozen)
There is no doubt that fruits and vegetables are important for your health - that's one of the reasons the practice of over-loading food with pesticides is so heinous. Humans rely on food to maintain good health. Certified organic products can help limit exposure to these pesticides and research shows that's important particularly when feeding our kids or if you're pregnant.
California is the leading producer of strawberries in the U.S. In 2013, more than 2.3 billion pounds of strawberries were harvested annually. Of the 16.3 percent exported, Canada imports the majority of California’s fresh and frozen strawberry produce. But when the Pesticide Action Network did an analysis of pesticide residues using USDA data, it found 54 different pesticide residues among strawberry samples. The testing turned up nine known or probable carcinogens, 24 suspected hormone disruptors, 11 neurotoxins, 12 developmental or reproductive toxins, and 19 honeybee toxins. Traces of fungicides captan and pyraclostrobin turned up on more than half of strawberry samples tested.
A solid reason to buy organic.