Turns out, an apple a day may in fact, do the opposite of keeping the doctor away (depending on your view of the health concerns of pesticides).
The Environmental Working Group (EWG) has released its 2011 Dirty Dozen list for fruits and veggies that contain the most pesticides. There are several repeat offenders from 2010, and apples have moved from fourth place to the dubious distinction of first at the top of the pesticide-laden food chain.
Here’s the EWG's full Dirty Dozen list, from worst to best:
Apples, celery, strawberries, peaches, spinach, nectarines (imported), grapes (imported), sweet bell peppers, potatoes, blueberries (domestic), lettuce and kale/collard greens.
But, wait -- there's some good news, too.
The EWG also offers a Clean 15 list for fruits and veggies with the least amount of harmful pesticides, from best to worst:
Onions, sweet corn, pineapples, avocados, asparagus, sweet peas, mangoes, eggplant, cantaloupe (domestic), kiwi, cabbage, watermelon, sweet potatoes, grapefruit and mushrooms.
EWG reports that the average person can lower his or her pesticide intake by up to 92 percent by avoiding the “Dirty Dozen” offenders altogether, yet families can also forego the chemicals by choosing to go organic when purchasing their favorite fruits and veggies.
You may wonder if the health benefits of eating these nutritious foods outweigh their potentially harmful pesticide counts. On this topic, EWG President Ken Cook says,
"We recommend that people eat healthy by eating more fruits and vegetables, whether conventional or organic. But people don’t want to eat pesticides with their produce if they don’t have to. And with EWG’s guide, they don’t.”
If you are hoping to reduce your family's chemical consumption and live as pesticide-free as possible, here are three giant steps that you can take in the right direction: Shop at one of the many farmers markets that our beautiful city has to offer, try to buy seasonally whenever possible and buy organic.