We all know buying organic produce is the best choice for our bodies and the environment, but sometimes we have to make choices based on what’s in our wallet. Growing food without the use of powerful chemical insecticides and fertilizers often has higher production costs. Maintaining an organic certification can also cost farmers thousands of dollars in certification fees, which seems like an unfair burden to farmers who are trying to do the right thing, but that’s another conversation.
The added expenses for the farmers translate to higher prices for us on organic produce at the grocery store. So every year the good people at EWG rank pesticide contamination on 48 popular fruits and vegetables so we know which are the worst offenders. Their analysis is based on results of thousands of samples tested by the USDA and the FDA. They’ve found a total of 146 different pesticides residues that remain on fruits and vegetables even after they are washed and in some cases peeled. While some of the chemicals are relatively benign, others have been linked in studies to cancer, reproductive and developmental damage, hormone disruption and neurological problems.
Here are the 10 items they found to have the highest contamination levels:
We can prioritize buying organic versions of these items knowing the extra cost is money well spent.
- Leafy Greens (Spinach, Kale, Collard Greens)
- Sweet Bell Peppers/Hot Peppers
This is the first time strawberries have topped the list with 98 percent of the samples having detectable pesticide residues of up to 17 different pesticides on one berry! You can read more about the dangers of pesticides on strawberries here. The EWG also puts out a Shopper’s Guide To Pesticides In Produce which includes the “Clean 15” list of fruits and veggies with little to no pesticide contamination detected on the samples. Check out their website for the handy downloadable guide and more information on their findings.