2014 Shopper’s Guide to Pesticides on Produce

2014 Shopper's Guide to Pesticides on Produce

Last month, the EWG released their updated shopper’s guide to pesticides in conventional (not organic) produce. The Clean 15 are the top 15 fruits and vegetables the EWG states are the least likely to test positive for pesticide residues.  The Dirty Dozen Plus are the most contaminated conventional fruits and vegetables – those to be avoided.

What to know

  • The majority of pesticide exposure comes from the food you eat. At least 65% of the conventional produce samples tested had at least one pesticide.
  • In 2014, the USDA detected 10 different pesticides on at least 5 percent of 777 samples of peach baby food sold in the U.S. The USDA found six pesticides in apple juice, a staple of many children’s diets.
  • The US has thus far not followed Europe’s lead in banning toxic pesticide chemicals. The European Commission has banned diphenylamine, DPA for short, on fruit raised in the 28 European Union member states and has imposed tight restrictions on imported fruit. DPA, a growth regulator and antioxidant, is applied after harvest to most apples conventionally grown in the U.S. and to some U.S.-grown pears, to prevent the fruit skin from discoloring during months of cold storage.
  • The American Academy of Pediatrics issued an important report in 2012 stating that children have:

 “unique susceptibilities to [pesticide residues’] potential toxicity.” The pediatricians’ organization cited research that linked pesticide exposures in early life and “pediatric cancers, decreased cognitive function, and behavioral problems.” It advised its members to urge parents to consult “reliable resources that provide information on the relative pesticide content of various fruits and vegetables.”

Clean Fifteen Highlights

  • Avocados were the cleanest: only 1 percent of avocado samples showed any detectable pesticides.
  • Some 89 percent of pineapples, 82 percent of kiwi, 80 percent of papayas, 88 percent of mango and 61 percent of cantaloupe had no residues.
  • No single fruit sample from the Clean Fifteen™ tested positive for more than 4 types of pesticides.
  • Detecting multiple pesticide residues is extremely rare on Clean Fifteen™ vegetables. Only 5.5 percent of Clean Fifteen samples had two or more pesticides.

2014 Shopper's Guide to Pesticides on Produce

Dirty Dozen Highlights

  • Every sample of imported nectarines and 99 percent of apple samples tested positive for at least one pesticide residue.
  • The average potato had more pesticides by weight than any other food.
  • A single grape sample contained 15 pesticides. Single samples of celery, cherry tomatoes, imported snap peas and strawberries showed 13 different pesticides apiece.

How to use the Shopper’s Guide

Don’t stop eating fruits and vegetables, use the guide to reduce your exposure to pesticides:

  • Choose organic produce when you can afford it.

Studies led by Chensheng (Alex) Lu of Emory University found that elementary school-age children’s body burdens of organophosphate pesticides, including chlorpyrifos and malathion, peaked during the summer, when they ate the most fresh produce. But just five days after switching to an all-organic diet, their bodies were essentially pesticide-free.

  • If you can’t afford 100% organic produce, choose conventional for the Clean 15 and organic for the Dirty Dozen Plus. This is mostly what my family does.
  • Always wash your fruit before eating.  Note these tests were done after washing and peeling so if you don’t do that, you are potentially ingesting even more pesticide residue.

tip iconWant to have the list handy while shopping? Download the FREE Dirty Dozen app for iPhone.


Alternatives to BPA in Canned Foods

It’s not new news that the tin cans used for canned food is lined with a resin containing bisphenol-A (BPA).  The only new news is that every week there seems to be new research warning of BPA’s dangerous effects.  Unfortunately, avoiding canned food altogether is just not feasible for every family.  There are ways, however, to minimize your use of canned foods and the effect that BPA may have on you and your family.

1.  Buy tomato based products in glass or TetraPaks. Acidity causes BPA leaching and tomatoes have a lot of it.  You can get glass tomato paste and strained tomatoes from Bionaturae and crushed and diced tomatoes from San Marzano.  Trader Joe’s carries an Italian Tomato Starter Sauce in a TetraPak and Pomi has both chopped and strained tomatoes, along with a marinara sauce in TetraPaks.

2. Buy Eden Foods canned goods. According to their website, “All 33 Eden Organic Beans including Chili, Rice & Beans, Refried, and Flavored, are cooked in steel cans coated with a baked on oleoresinous c-enamel that does not contain the endocrine disrupter chemical, bisphenol-A (BPA). Oleoresin is a non-toxic mixture of an oil and a resin extracted from various plants, such as pine or balsam fir. Theshttp://mommygoesgreen.com/wp-admin/post.php?post=1985&action=edite cans cost 14% more than the industry standard cans that do contain BPA. The Ball Corporation tells us that Eden is the only U.S. food maker to date to use these BPA free cans and we have been since April 1999.”   Buy online.

3. Buy dried goods and cook them. Searching through my pantry, I find that many of my canned food purchases are beans – kidney, white, garbanzo or black.  I can buy dried beans and cook them for my meals, it takes about an hour in a saucepan or just minutes with a pressure cooker.

4. Grow or pick your own.  Spring is around the corner so start thinking about planting a fruit and/or veggie garden.  I promise it’s not a lot of work – start small with a few easy to grow veggies this summer and keep adding year after year.  It feels good to walk outside each day and pick the fruit of your labor (literally).  What you don’t eat can be canned (in glass) for the winter.  If you don’t want to grow your own, go to a farm and pick them.  Last summer, we picked over 30 pounds of blueberries that lasted all winter and enough strawberries to make freezer jam for a year.

5. Buy soups and broths in TetraPaks. You can find a great variety of soups and broths in TetraPaks from brands like Pacific Foods, Imagine Foods, and Trader Joe’s.

6. Buy frozen. Frozen may not be quite as good as fresh, but it’s a better choice than canned. Frozen, organic fruits and veggies are not that more expensive than conventional choices and they are much healthier and contain less pesticides.

What other kinds of canned foods do you buy and can you find an alternative?