Choosing Healthy Produce

Summer is here. It is time to choose fresh fruit and vegetables. The Environmental Working Group, a nonprofit focused on public health, studied nearly 100,000 produce pesticide reports from the U. S. Department of Agriculture and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to determine which fruits and vegetables we eat have the highest, and lowest, amounts of chemical residue.

The Environmental Working Group has compiled a list of 12 soft skinned foods that absorb the most pesticides. These are called “The Dirty Dozen.” “The Clean Fifteen” are tough skinned foods that are safe because we don’t eat the thick peels.

The Dirty Dozen are celery, peaches, strawberries, apples, domestic blueberries, nectarines, sweet bell peppers, spinach, kale, collard greens, cherries, potatoes, imported grapes, and lettuce. The group says you can reduce your exposure to pesticides by up to 80% by choosing organic for the Dirty Dozen.

The Clean Fifteen are onions, avocados, sweet corn, pineapples, mango, sweet peas, asparagus, kiwi fruit, cabbage, eggplant, cantaloupe, watermelon, grapefruit, sweet potatoes, and sweet onions.

The pesticide tests mentioned above were conducted after the food had been power-washed by the USDA. Also, although some pesticides are found on the surface of foods, other pesticides may be taken up through the roots and into the plant and cannot be removed. Organic foods can be more expensive. This list will help determine when it is most important to choose organic.