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Dirty Dozen Fruits and vegetables for pesticide residue

Here's a closer look at the Dirty Dozen pesticide laden commercial produce varieties:


1. Celery has no protective skin, which makes it almost impossible to wash off the chemicals (64 of them!) that are used on crops. Buy organic celery, or choose alternatives like broccoli, radishes, and onions.

2. Peaches Multiple pesticides (as many as 62 of them) are regularly applied to these delicately skinned fruits in conventional orchards. Can't find organic? Safer alternatives include watermelon, tangerines, oranges, and grapefruit.

3. Strawberries If you buy strawberries, especially out of season, they're most likely imported from countries that have less-stringent regulations for pesticide use. 59 pesticides have been detected in residue on strawberries. Can't find organic? Safer alternatives include kiwi and pineapples.

4. Apples Like peaches, apples are typically grown with poisons to kill a variety of pests, from fungi to insects. Tests have found 42 different pesticides as residue on apples. Scrubbing and peeling doesn't eliminate chemical residue completely, so it's best to buy organic when it comes to apples. Peeling a fruit or vegetable also strips away many of their beneficial nutrients. Can't find organic? Safer alternatives include watermelon, bananas, and tangerines


5. Blueberries Blueberries are treated with as many as 52 pesticides, making them one of the dirtiest berries on the market.



6. Nectarines With 33 different types of pesticides found on nectarines, they rank up there with apples and peaches among the dirtiest tree fruit.


7. Capsicums Have thin skins that don't offer much of a barrier to pesticides. They're often heavily sprayed with insecticides. Tests have found 49 different pesticides .


8. Spinach Spinach can be laced with as many as 48 different pesticides, making it one of the most contaminated green leafy vegetable.

9. Kale Traditionally, kale is known as a hardier vegetable that rarely suffers from pests and disease, but it was found to have high amounts of pesticide residue when tested this year.


10. Cherries Even locally grown cherries are not necessarily safe. Testing has found 42 different pesticides on cherries.

11. Potatoes A favorite vegetable can be laced with as many as 37 different pesticides.

12. Grapes Vineyards can be sprayed with different pesticides during different growth periods of the grape, and no amount of washing or peeling will eliminate contamination because of the grape's thin skin. Remember, wine is made from grapes, which testing shows can harbor as many as 34 different pesticides.

Which non-organic foods is it especially good to avoid and make an effort to buy organically?

The 12 worst foods from the point of view of number of pesticides and percentage with pesticide residues were:

•    Bread

•    Wine

•    Pears

•    Broccoli & Cauliflower

•    Cabbage

•    Onions

•    Nectarines

•    Celery

•    Tomatoes

•    Cucumber

•    Apples

•    Sultanas & Raisins

Bread and wheat products are at the top of the list, with residues detected in 94.4% of 90 samples. Wheat products include bran cereal, biscuits, flour, noodles, spaghetti, wheatbix, cake, pizza, sausages, luncheon sausage, muesli, hamburger, meat pie and the batter around fish.

Chances are, you are taking in organophosphate or insecticide residues MOST of the time you eat something with non-organic flour in it. Most of these residues result from the post harvest application of a fumigant on the stored grain.

Though their effects in human beings are still being debated, the evidence is mounting. From wildlife and animal studies in laboratories, there is growing concern that these endocrine disruptors can cause developmental, reproductive, behavioural, immunological and physiological changes.

Particularly worrisome is the threat that endocrine disruptors pose on the unborn. When acting on a developing foetus at critical periods, they can cause lasting damage at minute doses, which were previously not thought to be harmful.

The young and those who suffer from chronic illness are more at risk from pesticide residues in their diet. For these people particularly, it is important to increase the amount of organic food eaten, especially those foods which are heavily sprayed.

In general, if you are trying to reduce pesticide residues in your diet, especially seek out organic bread, fruit and salad vegetables, meat and butter. It is especially important for pregnant women and women who may conceive to eat organic wheat, fruit, vegetables, meat, cheese and butter (pesticides are passed through the placenta and breast milk).

We can help protect ourselves from a toxic environment by eating organic food, and by demanding a benign system of agriculture and an economy and infrastructure that does not depend on pouring pollutants into the atmosphere, rivers and seas. From “Total Diet Survey Analysis” by Alison White

Wine is second on the list, with all 12 samples having iprodione, a fungicide in them. The good news is that the levels of vinclozolin, a known endocrine disruptor, have fallen. (It has just recently been deregistered.) The bad news is that grape growers seem to be substituting another fungicide, using more iprodione instead, a chemical cousin to vinclozolin, which can cause cancer.

Close contenders for the dirty dozen list were lettuce, dairy products, meat and potatoes.

Health effects of these pesticides

Many of the pesticides found as residues in our food have been found in independent studies to have serious long term effects including hormonal disruption, cancer, immune system suppression, nervous system damage, genetic damage and birth defects.

Children are at special risk with any substance capable of causing cancer and nervous system damage. The young are especially susceptible to the acute effects of organophosphate insecticides.

Endocrine disruption

Several pesticides can disrupt the body’s endocrine or hormonal system so crucial in growth and development. These endocrine disruptors can mimic or disrupt the normal functions of hormones, and tamper with this delicately balanced signaling system in the body, which governs a range of functions and developmental processes.

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