The Organic Shopping List

March 2009


It's sad but true: Some produce items are more subject to pesticide
contamination than others. Learn which fruits and vegetables make up the
"dirty dozen" - and why you should buy them organically.

GOING ORGANIC is always a good thing, but looking for that green-and-white organic label is more important in some instances than others. Take fresh produce, for example. Everyone from the federal government to us here at ET are constantly telling you to load your plate with fresh fruits and veggies for their nutritional value. Unfortunately, some produce items are especially polluted with pesticide and other chemical residues.

The Environmental Working Group, a DC-based watchdog organization, has a Shopper's Guide to Pesticides in Produce (www.foodnews.org), which ranks vegetables and fruits based on the results of almost 51,000 tests conducted by federal agencies between 2000 and 2005. To learn which items made EWG's "Dirty Dozen" list, see below.

Peaches
The bad news: More than 86% of the samples tested carried residues of multiple
pesticides; one sample contained traces of nine separate chemicals
The good news: Provides vitamins C and A, niacin, potassium and fiber

Apples
The bad news: Tested positive for 50 different chemicals
The good news: Contains boron and vitamins A and C, in addition to between
4 and 5 mg of fiber per apple; also contains phytonutrients that include quercetin,
linked to reductions in cholesterol and cancer risk, and to improvements in lung function

Sweet Bell Peppers
The bad news: One sample was contaminated with 11 different pesticides;
more than 81% of all samples carried residues
The good news: Has high levels of vitamin C and beta-carotene,
and significant amounts of vitamin B6, fiber and other nutrients; also contains
lycopene, a phytonutrient associated with reduced risk of prostate and other cancers

Celery
The bad news: More than 94% of all samples had pesticide residues
The good news: Contains a number of minerals including calcium, magnesium,
phosphorus, potassium and manganese; modern studies support Traditional Chinese
Medicine use for blood pressure regulation

Nectarines
The bad news: Had the single highest percentage of samples
testing positive at 97.3%
The good news: Contains lutein, a phytonutrient linked to healthy skin and reduced risk
for a vision disorder called macular degeneration; also provides vitamins A and C

Strawberries
The bad news: Over 92% of all samples carried traces of 38 different pesticides
The good news: Provides high levels of vitamin C and fiber; also contains anthocyanins,
which are potent antioxidants, and ellagic acid, which has shown anti-cancer effects

Cherries
The bad news: Almost 76% of all samples were contaminated with two or more chemicals
The good news: Provides vitamin C and fiber in addition
to anti-inflammatory phytonutrients; may help protect against gout

Lettuce
The bad news: Subject to contamination by 57 pesticides
The good news: Nutrients vary by variety - the darker, the better (sorry, iceberg);
romaine lettuce is low in calories and high in nutrition, making it a first-rate diet aid

Grapes (imported)
The bad news: More than 84% of all samples carried chemical traces
The good news: Best known as a source of resveratrol, a phytonutrient that boosts
heart health by protecting cholesterol from oxidation and inhibiting the formation
of artery-clogging clots

Pears
The bad news: Carried traces of 33 different pesticides
The good news: Contains soluble fiber, the kind that
helps to lower cholesterol levels, along with vitamin C and copper

Spinach
The bad news: Some samples were contaminated with six separate chemicals
The good news: A true health superstar, with significant amounts of vitamins A, B2,
C and K along with folate, iron, magnesium and manganese; also contains
cancer-fighting phytonutrients

Potatoes
The bad news: 81% carried detectable levels of contamination
The good news: Provides a considerable amount of
vitamin C along with copper, fiber, manganese, potassium and vitamin B6

 

 


Source: Environmental Working Group;
for a complete report, visit www.foodnews.org

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