EWG’s New Shoppers’ Guide to Pesticides

March 25, 2009 by  
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The Environmental Working Group (EWG) has recently released a guide dirty_dozen_pesticides_fruits_vegetables1listing the dirtiest and cleanest natural food products found in the supermarket. The Shoppers’ Guide to Pesticides show that not all food products were created equal. The “Dirty Dozen” are food stuffs found to be have the highest pesticide content while the “Clean 15” are those lowest in pesticides.

EWG analysts have developed the Guide based on data from nearly 87,000 tests for pesticide residues in produce conducted between 2000 and 2007 and collected by the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

According to EWG research, when people eat the fruit and vegetables on the Dirty Dozen list, they are exposed to no less than 10 types of pesticides a day. When eating the Clean 15 each day, people are exposed to 2 or less types of pesticides.

The criteria used by EWG to develop these rankings plus the complete list of fruits and vegetables tested can be found at website, www.foodnews.org.

Pesticides are used by farmers and food growers in preventing insects and other pests from attacking fruit and vegetables. They may make our food look good by pesticides can have adverse effects on our health, especially during fetal development and childhood. Long-term exposure to pesticides has been reported to cause different types of life-threatening conditions, including cancer.

In the landmark “10 Americans” study of EWG in 2005, no less than 287 industrial chemicals have been detected in the umbilical cord blood of newborn babies across the US. Almost half of the chemicals identified were carcinogens including dozens of widely used brominated flame retardants (PBDEs) and their toxic by-products, and numerous pesticides, including DDT and others, which were banned more than 30 years ago.

There are many ways to reduce pesticide exposure through the food. Using this guide to make intelligent and health choices is one of them. Other strategies are:

  • Washing can reduce but does not get rid of all pesticides.
  • Peeling can get rid of pesticides on the skin but a lot of nutrients and fibers are lost.
  • Buying organic products helps as long as you are sure that what is declared as organic is really organic. Beware of organic food scams.

The best approach, according to EWG, is a combination of different strategies, e.g. eating a varied diet, rinsing fresh produce thoroughly, and buying organic food when possible.

The Environmental Working Group (EWG) is a non-profit organization with the mission “to use the power of public information to protect public health and the environment.”

Photo credit: stock.xchng

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