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Top 12 Toxic Fruits and Vegetables

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Top 12 Toxic Fruits and Vegetables

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:

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Read more: Basics, Conservation, Diet & Nutrition, Eating for Health, Food, General Health, Natural Pest Control, News & Issues, Wildlife, ,

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Melissa Breyer

Melissa Breyer is a writer and editor with a background in sustainable living, specializing in food, science and design. She is the co-author of True Food (National Geographic) and has edited and written for regional and international books and periodicals, including The New York Times Magazine. Melissa lives in Brooklyn, NY.


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7:53PM PDT on Jun 12, 2014

Thanks for sharing.

5:55AM PDT on Apr 22, 2014

interesting thank you

9:11PM PDT on Apr 1, 2014

if possible, raise as much food of your own ... just because it is labeled organic does not mean that it is 'poison free'. Some of the chemicals allowed under the 'organic' label are serious toxins. Educate yourself and talk to your local famers/ farmer's market or grocer. Ask for cleaner food -- unless there is a demand, there will be no supply.

3:30AM PDT on Mar 15, 2014

The human are poisoning themselves

1:58AM PST on Feb 25, 2014


7:21AM PDT on Oct 21, 2013

This is why more and more people are raising their own! Thank you for sharing.

2:15PM PDT on Jun 23, 2013

This is a useful article that I recommend for everyone. Bell peppers are super easy to grow organically and are great for growing in containers for apartment dwellers. We should all stop buying pesticide laced bell peppers. This is one food crop that could easily be switched over to organic commercial growing. Also, if you do have to buy the super expensive organic peppers, be sure to freeze any you don't use, for use on pizza or other recipes that call for peppers. They freeze well and last about 6 to 9 months in the freezer.

4:28PM PDT on Sep 13, 2012

Thank you for sharing.

4:27PM PDT on Sep 13, 2012

Thank you for sharing.

11:55AM PDT on Aug 31, 2011


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people are talking

And I just love the picture of the water lily.

Kale is a wonder food. Too bad it tastes so awful :)

How sweet! Maybe this guy uses catnip cologne!


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