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Pesticides & Produce: The Dirty Dozen


Fact: Eating healthy begins with fresh fruits and vegetables. 

But it is also important to understand how the use of pesticides in industrial farming impacts the very same produce you buy at your local grocery store.

Even though the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) restricts the use of the most toxic pesticides, they can still be detected on some of your favorite foods.

[VIDEO] Watch our segment on KUTV 2News!

The Low Down on Pesticides

According to the Environmental Working Group (EWG),

Pesticides are toxic by design. They are created expressly to kill living organisms — insects, plants and fungi that are considered “pests.” Many pesticides pose health dangers to people. These risks have been confirmed by independent research scientists and physicians across the world.

Different pesticides have been linked to a variety of health problems, including brain and nervous system toxicity, cancer and hormone disruption. You can learn more about human health issues related to pesticide exposure on the EPA website.

The Dirty Dozen

Every year, the EWG releases their “Dirty Dozen” list of fruits and vegetables that test high for pesticide contamination, even after the produce is washed. Is your favorite on the list?

  • Apples
  • Celery
  • Cherry tomatoes
  • Cucumbers
  • Grapes
  • Hot peppers
  • Nectarines (imported)
  • Peaches
  • Potatoes
  • Spinach
  • Strawberries
  • Sweet bell peppers

Keep it Clean

  1. Get educated. In addition to the Dirty Dozen, Pesticide Action Network and Beyond Pesticides are excellent resources to understand the impacts and alternatives.
  2. Grow your own. This is the best way to know exactly where your food is coming from and how it was grown. It’s the closest connection you can have to your food!
  3. Buy local. It’s harvest time! So head on down to your local farmers market and look for growers that do not spray their crops.
  4. Go organic. While more costly, organic produce is grown without the use of pesticides or herbicides and can be bought at your local grocery store.

Another option is to limit your consumption of the produce on the Dirty Dozen list in favor of items included on the Clean Fifteen list below. It is also important to note that “the health benefits of a diet rich in fruits and vegetables outweigh the risks of pesticide exposure,” according to the EWG.

  • Asparagus
  • Avocados
  • Cabbage
  • Cantaloupe
  • Sweet corn
  • Eggplant
  • Grapefruit
  • Kiwi
  • Mangoes
  • Mushrooms
  • Onions
  • Pineapples
  • Sweet peas (frozen)
  • Sweet potatoes

Questions? Let us know!

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