“The committee found that infants and children differ both qualitatively and quantitatively from adults in their exposure to pesticide residues in foods…To ensure that infants and children are not exposed to unsafe levels of pesticide residues, the committee recommends that EPA [Environmental Protection Agency] modify its decision-making process for setting tolerances so that it is based more on health considerations than on agricultural practices.” (3) (Ibid.)
Top 5 Dirty Dozen Foods
Following are the Top Five of 2017’s Dirty Dozen (you can find the entire list of produce here). Avoid them like poison…because they are.
- Strawberries – the most contaminated sample contained residues of twenty different pesticides. Now that’s a chemical cocktail!
- Spinach – had twice as much pesticide residue by weight than any other item tested. Seventy-five percent of the samples contained a pesticide banned in Europe. The chemical contains neurotoxins that have been associated with child behavioral disorders. (4)
- Nectarines – the texture of nectarines and peaches seems to absorb pesticides like a sponge. In the 2012 EWG report, nectarines actually had the most overall weight of pesticides of any fruit or vegetable. (5)
- Apples – this fruit staple was Number One on the list for many years; it’s now in fourth place, which is a good thing. Still, always go for organic when buying apples.
- Peaches – like nectarines, peaches soak in surrounding pesticides. These fruits can contain up to 62 pesticides residues: 8 are known or probable carcinogens, 24 are suspected hormone disruptors, 12 are neurotoxins, and 9 are developmental or reproductive toxins (6).
The top offenders tend to be the same from year to year. The rest of 2017’s Dirty Dozen include pears, cherries, grapes, celery, tomatoes, bell peppers, and potatoes.
Buying Organic is Worth it
The idea is to eat only organic locally-grown produce to be assured that no synthetic pesticides or fertilizers have been used in food production and that there are no resident genetically-modified organisms. We all can see that organic produce is more expensive when we go to the market, but few people know why.
It’s more expensive to grow food organically because:
- Organic growing practices require more labor and expensive soil maintenance.
- There are many more conventional farms than organic and it is difficult to leverage economies of scale.
- More humane treatment and organic feed for livestock raised for food require more land, more expensive feed, and greater human care and labor costs.
- Supervision and costly certification required to maintain the ability to label food as organic. (7)
- Higher cost of labor and standards for organic farm workers.
- Higher costs of fertilizer and transportation.
- Billions of US government dollars (from taxpayers) are given to conventional farmers in subsidies each year.
- It takes three years of organic farming on previously conventional land to get an organic certification. This means farmers spend more to grow better food but aren’t properly compensated for years.
- The demand for organic food has exceeded the supply. (8)