How would you like a dose of 67 pesticides with your celery? If you’re eating non-organic celery, that’s the number of pesticides you may very well be ingesting. According to the 2010 edition of Environmental Working Group’s Shopper’s Guide to Pesticides, the top 12 pesticide-contaminated fruits and vegetables contain 47 to 67 different pesticides per serving. This year celery is starring in the number 1 spot (up from number 4 last year), peaches moved down, and there are a few new contenders on the list.
I love Environmental Working Group (EWG), the hard-hitting and diligent nonprofit focused on public health. EWG analyzes nearly 100,000 produce pesticide reports from the USDA and the FDA–they then determine what fruits and vegetables contain the highest, and lowest, amounts of chemical residue and present the information in a handy shopper’s guide. I love (love, love) this list, it is so practical and puts the ability to eat safely in everybody’s hands. It’s a brilliant workaround.
Shoppers can use the list in two ways. If you are unable to buy organic produce, avoid the “Dirty Dozen” and instead opt for the “Clean 15.” If you can buy limited organic, purchase organically-grown items from the Dirty Dozen, and continue buying non-organic selections from the Clean 15. Of course, in a perfect world we wouldn’t be contending with pesticides at all–but in this imperfect world at least we have some tools to help navigate around the n-methyl carbamates and organophosphate pesticides. (Did you know that some of the most commonly used pesticides today were originally derived from nerve gasses developed during World War II? Fun fact. Sigh.)
Anyway, by avoiding the 12 most contaminated fruits and vegetables, you can lower your pesticide consumption by nearly 80 percent. So, at least there’s that. Here’s where to start, number 1 being the most contaminated: