Monday, November 21, 2011

Dirty Dozen Pesticide List: Why it Matters to Eat Organic

The Environmental Working Group compiles a list of the fruits and vegetables with the highest amounts of pesticides and fungicides to help consumers make informed decisions about when to buy organic.

Apples are No. 1 on the Dirty Dozen list.

Pesticides and fungicides are sprayed on crops as a way to protect our food supply from bugs and pests. However, pesticides don't simply wash off. These pesticides and fungicides penetrate our foods, and as we eat these foods we also are ingesting these harmful products.

The easiest way to avoid pesticides and fungicides is to choose organic fruits and vegetables. But if buying all organic puts too much of strain on your pocketbook, the safest place to start is with the "Dirty Dozen" list of produce containing the highest levels of pesticides.

The list is compiled annually by the Environmental Working Group (EWG), a nonprofit organization that uses public information to protect public health and the environment. Many of the items on the list contain multiple pesticides, some with as many as 60 different types.

Although we are exposed to hundreds of pesticides a day, making some simple changes to your diet — such as not buying food off the Dirty Dozen list or buying the organic version — can reduce your exposure to pesticides and reduce health risks.

The 2011 Dirty Dozen list:

  1. Apples
  2. Celery
  3. Strawberries
  4. Peaches
  5. Spinach
  6. Imported nectarines
  7. Imported grapes
  8. Sweet bell pepper
  9. Potatoes
  10. Domestic blueberries
  11. Lettuce
  12. Kale/collard greens

For more information on pesticide health risks, visit the Environmental Protection Agency website, which provides human risk assessment informational fact sheets on pesticides/fungicides in alphabetical order.

Jessica Hoffman, dietetic intern, and Debra A. Boutin, MS, RD, chair and dietetic internship director, Department of Nutrition and Exercise Science at Bastyr University.

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