Adjusting your eating habits can lower your intake of pesticides - sometimes dramatically so…
Fruits topped the list of the consistently most contaminated fruits and vegetables, with 8 of the 12 most contaminated foods…
- a simulation made by the Environmental Working Group, a US advocacy and NGO, based on data by thousands of consumers eating high and low pesticide diets shows that people can lower their pesticide exposure by 90% by avoiding the top 12 most contaminated fruits and vegetables and eating the least contaminated instead;
- eating the 12 most contaminated fruits and vegetables will expose a person to nearly 20 pesticides per day, on average. Eating the 12 least contaminated will expose a person to a fraction over 2 pesticides per day;
- less dramatic comparisons will produce less dramatic reductions, but without doubt using the Shopper's Guide to Pesticides in Produce provides people with a way to make choices that lower pesticide exposure in the diet. Of course, the situation varies from country to country. The US example, however, could give you an idea on what happens at least in several other industrialised countries.
- the guide ranks pesticide contamination for 46 popular fruits and vegetables based on an analysis of over 100,000 tests for pesticides on these foods, conducted from 1992-2001 by the US Department of Agriculture and the Food and Drug Administration.
Spinach, celery, potatoes, and sweet bell peppers are the vegetables most likely to expose consumers to pesticides. Among these four vegetables:
- among the top six were four fruits, with peaches leading the list, then strawberries, apples and nectarines. Pears, cherries, red raspberries, and imported grapes were the other four fruits in the top 12;
- nectarines had the highest percentage of samples test positive for pesticides (97.3%), followed by pears (94.4%) and peaches (93.7%).
- nectarines also had the highest likelihood of multiple pesticides on a single sample - 85.3% had two or more pesticide residues - followed by peaches (79.9%) and cherries (75.8%);
- peaches and raspberries had the most pesticides detected on a single sample with 9 pesticides on a single sample, followed by strawberries and apples, where 8 pesticides were found on a single sample;
- peaches had the most pesticides overall with some combination of up to 45 pesticides found on the samples tested, followed by raspberries with 39 pesticides and apples and strawberries, both with 36.
The vegetables least likely to have pesticides on them are sweet corn, avocado, cauliflower, asparagus, onions, peas and broccoli…
- celery had the highest of percentage of samples test positive for pesticides (94.5%), followed by spinach (83.4%) and potatoes (79.3%);
- celery also had the highest likelihood of multiple pesticides on a single vegetable (78% of samples), followed by spinach (51.8%) and sweet bell peppers (48.5%);
- spinach was the vegetable with the most pesticides detected on a single sample (10 found on one sample), followed by celery and sweet bell peppers (both with 9);
- sweet bell peppers were the vegetable with the most pesticides overall with 39, followed by spinach at 36 and celery and potatoes, both with 29.
The five fruits least likely to have pesticide residues on them are pineapples, mangoes, bananas, kiwi and papaya…
- nearly three-quarters (73%) of the pea and broccoli samples had no detectable pesticides. Among the other vegetables on the least-contaminated list, there were no detectable residues on 90% or more of the samples;
- multiple pesticide residues are extremely rare on any of these least contaminated vegetables. Broccoli had the highest likelihood, with a 2.6% chance of more than one pesticide when ready to eat. Avocado and corn both had the lowest chance with zero samples containing more than one pesticide when eaten;
- the greatest number of pesticides detected on a single sample of any of these low-pesticide vegetables was three as compared to 10 found on spinach, the most contaminated crop with the most residues;
- broccoli and onions both had the most pesticides found on a single vegetable crop at up to 17 pesticides but far fewer than the most contaminated vegetable, sweet bell peppers, on which 39 were found.
- fewer than 10% of pineapple and mango samples had detectable pesticides on them and fewer than 1% of samples had more than one pesticide residue;
- though 53% of bananas had detectable pesticides, multiple residues are rare with only 4.7% of samples containing more than one residue. Kiwi and papaya had residues on 23.6% and 21.7% of samples, respectively, and just 10.4% and 5.6% of samples, respectively, had multiple pesticide residues.