Buying Organic Fruits and Vegetables
The U.S. government regulates the use of pesticides on fruits and vegetables and most people can process the relatively small amount of pesticide residues that may be eaten. Still, some supporters of organic foods argue that eating chemical residues over time can lead to health problems, especially for people with weakened immune systems.
You can buy organic foods if you're trying to stay away from pesticide residues. But these foods often cost more and some varieties of conventionally grown fruits and vegetables are relatively low in residue. So when might buying organic benefit your health?
The Environmental Working Group (EWG), a non-profit health advocacy research organization, ranks the least and most contaminated fruits and vegetables based on data from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). The EWG's Shopper's Guide to Pesticides in Produce can help you learn which fruits and vegetables may have the most pesticide residues.
Based on results of the most recent study, the EWG issued a "Dirty Dozen" list of fruits and vegetables with the most pesticide residues and a "Clean 15" list of produce with the least residues.
According to the USDA, pesticide residue was found on 98 percent of more than 700 apple samples tested, making apples the most contaminated type of produce. Onions ranked lowest in residues, followed by sweet corn.
- Nectarines (imported)
- Grapes (imported)
- Sweet bell peppers
- Blueberries (domestic)
- Kale/collard greens
- Sweet corn
- Sweet peas
- Cantaloupes (domestic)
- Sweet potatoes