My posts have recently focused on pesticides and their effect on human physiology in a variety of ways. See Solving Childhood Obesity – Part II – Chemical Exposures, Toxins causing ‘grievous harm,’ cancer panel says, or Baby Bottles and BPA – You need to know the facts… for just a few examples.
The pesticide problem in this country is obviously a major one that contributes to everything from obesity to cancer. The problem? Most of our exposure to these pesticides is through eating the most nutritious foods – fruits and vegetables.
The Environmental Working Group recently released the ‘Dirty Dozen’ of fruit and vegetables that contain the highest pesticide counts. They also provided a list of fruits and vegetables that are less problematic when consumed. I have reprinted the list below.
The ‘Dirty Dozen’ – Only Consume From Organic Sources
- Domestic blueberries
- Sweet bell peppers
- Spinach, kale and collard greens
- Imported grapes
You May Consume from Non-Organic Sources
- Sweet corn
- Sweet peas
- Kiwi fruit
- Sweet potatoes
- Sweet onions
I always recommend that my patients eat as much as possible from organic sources. I am, however, a realist and know that it is almost impossible to find all of your food from organic sources. Even I don’t eat everything organic.
In the first list you see that they are all ready to eat. You could pick any one of those dirty dozen right off the tree or vine and pop it in your mouth and enjoy. However, that means that the pesticides are also applied directly to the skin of the fruit or vegetable. The skin of these fruits and vegetables are soft and the pesticides are absorbed directly into the flesh of the produce. Washing does you no good. In fact, the tests were conducted only on produce that had been washed with a USDA high-power pressure water system. The Environmental Working group found that you could potentially reduced your pesticide exposure by 80% by avoiding the dirty dozen or only eating them from organic sources.
In the second list you see fruits and vegetables that are consumed only after the tough skin has been removed. The Environmental Working Group found little to no pesticide in the flesh of this produce. I still recommend that you eat these organically because of the other benefits of organically grown produce.
Conventional wisdom has been that as long as you wash your produce you protect yourself from the dangers of pesticide exposure. It always seemed naive to me to assume that spraying pesticides on the outside of our produce had no effect on the inside of it. Now we have proof that at least soft skinned produce absorbs these dangerous chemicals and transfers those neurotoxins to us.
There is no better way to get your vitamins, minerals and antioxidants then by consuming fresh produce. However, make sure you eat as organically as possible to avoid unnecessary pesticide exposure.