Toxic Pesticides and Strawberries

The Environmental Working Group (EWG) has for another year provided us with valuable information in their 2016 Shoppers Guide to Pesticides in Produce Report regarding the safety of our fruits and vegetables.  Strawberries unfortunately made the top of their Dirty Dozen list this year.

Personally, strawberries are one of my favorite fruits. Strawberries are a go to fruit for almost anything, a topping for yogurt, a lovely addition to a salad and who can possibly ignore strawberry shortcake.

strawberries pesticides
Strawberries make the top of the dirty dozen list

There is however a lurking danger in eating non-organic strawberries, they are for the first time at the top of the EWG’s Dirty Dozen list.  This important list identifies produce that contain the highest amounts of pesticides, even after you’ve washed them.  EWG uses data from the U.S. Department of Agriculture as one of their data sources for determining the produce that gets reported in their shoppers guide. One startling fact reported by EWG was that, “In California, where most U.S. strawberries are grown, each acre is treated with an astonishing 300 pounds of pesticides.”

There are other fruits and vegetables on the dirty dozen list and it is really important to be aware of produce with similar pesticide concerns. Other dirty dozen produce includes peaches, nectarines, apples, celery, tomatoes and several others.

2016 key findings that were reported by EWG:

  • More than 98 percent of strawberry samples, peaches, nectarines, and apples tested positive for at least one pesticide residue.
  • The average potato had more pesticides by weight than any other produce.
  • A single grape sample and a sweet bell pepper sample contained 15 pesticides.
  • Single samples of strawberries showed 17 different pesticides.

Everyone has sticker shock when they go into the grocery store and look at the prices for organic foods. If you have a limited budget like most people and you are worried about produce on the Dirty Dozen list buy organic, grow them yourself, buy them from a local farm where you know their pesticide use processes or avoid the produce on the list altogether.

There is some really good news. EWG also provides a list of 15 produce products that are referred to as the Clean 15.  These products are the least likely to

Pineapples one of the clean 15
Pineapples one of the “Clean 15”

hold pesticide residues.  The Clean 15 list consists of avocados, sweet corn, pineapples, cabbage, frozen sweet peas, onions, asparagus, mangoes, papayas, kiwis, eggplant, honeydew melon, grapefruit, cantaloupe, and cauliflower. EWG reported that relatively few pesticides were detected on these foods, and tests found low total concentrations of pesticides on them.

2016 key findings that were reported by EWG:

  • Avocados were the cleanest: only 1 percent of avocado samples showed any detectable pesticides.
  • Some 89 percent of pineapples, 81 percent of papayas, 78 percent of mangoes, 73 percent of kiwi and 62 percent of cantaloupes had no residues.
  • No single fruit sample from the Clean Fifteen™ tested positive for more than 4 types of pesticides.
  • Multiple pesticide residues are extremely rare on Clean Fifteen™ vegetables. Only 5.5 percent of Clean Fifteen samples had two or more pesticides.

Overall, we are all trying to select safe and healthful products that are good for ourselves and those we love.  Thank you EWG for another informative 2016 Shoppers Guide to Pesticides in Produce Report.

Let’s remember the more we voice our concerns about pesticide use with our dollars and cents eventually we will see organic products become more affordable.

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