It’s one of the questions we hear most often: Which produce is most contaminated by pesticide residues? Which foods, fruits and veggies should we make sure to buy organic?
Research conducted by Consumers Union (CU) and the Environmental Working Group (EWG) supplies an answer. These organizations analyze the pesticide residues found in conventionally grown foods. While most don’t exceed safety tolerances for individual pesticides, many samples contain residues from multiple pesticides, which create a combined exposure risk.
Results from these tests offer up the following list of the top 10 “dirtiest” fruits and vegetables. However, choosing organic food options for these 10 items will drastically reduce pesticide intake. Families should buy these fruits and veggies organic whenever possible:
Peaches contain high levels of iprodione, a probable human carcinogen, and methyl parathion, an endocrine disrupting insecticide. According to Consumer Reports, single servings of peaches “consistently exceeded” the EPA’s safe daily limit for a 44-pound child.
Applesfrequently contain methyl parathion. Both fresh apples and apple sauce (i.e. baby food) can also contain chlorpyrifos, which has caused large bird kills.
Nectarines had the highest percentage of samples test positive for pesticides (97.3 percent) in EWG tests. Pesticides found included chlorpyrifos, fenarimol, iprodione, malathion, methidathion, myclobutanil, parathion and pirimicarb.
Strawberries are often treated with the fungicide captan, a probable human carcinogen that can irritate skin and eyes, and is highly toxic to fish.
Pears, both fresh and in baby food, can come with methyl parathion, as well as the azinphos-methyl, which is toxic to freshwater fish, amphibians and bees.
6. SWEET BELL PEPPERS
Sweet Bell Pepper earn the dubious distinction of being the vegetable with the most pesticides found in a single sample and the vegetable with the most pesticides overall.
Celery had a high percentage of samples test positive for pesticides and the highest likelihood of having multiple pesticides in a single sample.
8. IMPORTED GRAPES
Imported grapes contain methyl parathion, dimethoate, and methomyl, an insecticide listed as an endocrine disruptor. Since they’re grown under different regulations, the residue levels of these pesticides frequently exceed those our own government deems acceptable.
Spinach leads all foods in exceeding pesticide safety tolerances and has been found to contain dimethoate and permethrin, a possible human carcinogen.
Potatoes may contain dieldrin and methamidophos. Children eating potatoes also risk getting high doses of aldicarb.