by Naturally Savvy
Pesticides are chemicals used to control agricultural pests that damage crops and livestock. More than one billion tons of pesticides are used on crops in the United States every year, however less than one percent actually reaches the targeted organism. The remainder contaminates our air, soil, and water in addition to other plants and animals.
The most commonly used pesticides include: insecticides to kill insects; herbicides to kill weeds; nematocides to kill worms; rodenticides to kill rodents; and fungicides to control fungi, mold, and mildew.
Pesticides are lipid (fat) soluble and accumulate in our fatty tissues; therefore, they are a danger to human health. Many of these chemicals are known to cause cancer, immune system suppression, birth defects, damage to the nervous system, and disruption of hormones. What’s more, concentration of these chemicals increases at each step of our food chain.
According to a report from the Pesticide Action Network of North America, U.S. consumers may experience up to 70 exposures daily to residues on food from persistent organic pollutants (POPs). Testing by the U.S. Department of Agriculture reveals that, even after washing, some fruits and vegetables consistently carry much higher levels of pesticide residue than others (in fact, According to the Environmental Working Group, even after washing and peeling the produce, 68 percent still had detectable levels of pesticide residues).
Eating the 12 most contaminated fruits and vegetables exposes a person to a significant number of different types of pesticides, according to an Environmental Working Group report. But pesticide exposure can be reduced up to 80 percent by avoiding the “The Dirty Dozen,” either by eating other fruits and vegetables or by eating organic.
The Dirty Dozen (as of June 2012):
Apples – Pesticides were found on 98 percent of the apple samples tested.
Celery – Among vegetables, celery had the most samples test positive for pesticides (96 percent).
Bell Peppers – Bell peppers had 88 different pesticides detected on the samples.
Plums – 96 percent of imported plums tested positive for pesticides.
Peaches – Peaches are at the top of the list for the most contaminated fruits with pesticides.
Strawberries – 13 different pesticides were found on a single sample of strawberries.
Nectarines (imported) –Nectarines had the highest total weight of pesticides than any other produce. Every sample of imported nectarines tested positives for pesticides.
Grapes (as a category) – Grapes had 64 pesticides detected on samples.
Lettuce – Lettuce had 78 different pesticide residues detected on the samples.
Cucumbers – Cukes had 81 different pesticides detected on the samples.
Blueberries (domestic) – Had 13 different types of pesticides detected in a single sample.
Potatoes – 91 percent of the potato samples tested positive for pesticides.
This year, the EWG added two additional categories: green beans and kale/collard greens. Although they didn’t make the top 10, they still contained a large amount of insecticides.
The last thing to note is corn. Most corn crops are GMO, meaning they grown using genetically modified seeds, so we recommend buying organic corn whenever possible. It may be hard to find so visiting local farmers markets is a great place to start when they are in season.
To see where other foods stack up, review the full list. Choose organic fruits and vegetables whenever possible for your health and the environment.
Naturally Savvy was created as an information-based website to inform you about the basics of natural health. Living a naturally healthy lifestyle refers to using and consuming natural and organic and green products. For the most part, these products should not contain harmful preservatives, food coloring, harsh chemicals, growth hormones and/or pesticides, all of which have been linked to degenerative diseases such as cancer, heart disease and diabetes. We want you to understand the importance of living a naturally healthy lifestyle and how you, too, can begin to integrate natural, organic and green products into your life.