A list was published recently by the Environmental Working Group (a not-for-profit organization based in the U.S), on the fruits and vegetables with the highest and lowest levels of pesticide residue.
They based the results on nearly 43,000 tests for pesticides on produce collected by the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration between 2000 and 2005. The data relates to the US and results may not be the same for produce in other countries, even though the issue of pesticide residues will still be an issue, nevertheless.
The top twelve fruits and vegetables found to be highest in pesticides were:
- Sweet bell peppers
- Grapes (imported)
The twelve that were lowest in pesticides were:
- Sweet corn (frozen)
- Sweet peas (frozen)
The full list of 45 fruits and vegetables can be viewed here http://www.foodnews.org/fulldataset.php
The full extent of the toxic effects of pesticides in food is not fully known, but many studies have found that even small doses of pesticides and chemicals can have adverse effects on health.
It is therefore wise to minimize our exposure to these harmful chemicals by the following:
- Buy organic fruit and vegetables where possible.
- Wash or rinse all produce before using, which will reduce levels of some pesticides but will not eliminate them.
- Peeling also reduces exposure but valuable nutrients are often lost in the process.
- Fruit and vegetables with tough skins, like carrots and apples should be scrubbed with a brush to remove any pesticide residue.
- Produce like apples and cucumbers should be peeled because the wax-laden skins tend to hold more so than other produce.
- Leafy vegetables like lettuce and spinach should be stripped of the outer leaves, which tend to collect most of the pesticides and residue, and the rest of it should be washed.