: Pesticide residue on some fruits and vegetables – sometimes referred to as the dirty dozen
– is so high you should not eat them?
WHAT THEY’RE SAYING
It’s claimed the level of pesticide residue is so high on certain fruits and vegetables that eating them should be avoided, or only the organically-grown version should be eaten.
WHAT WE KNOW
Occasionally environmental safety organizations look through pesticide reports from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to determine which fruits and vegetables have the highest and the lowest amounts of chemical residue.
Why is the level of pesticides such a concern? Many pesticides are neurotoxicants, which means that they can damage the brain. Therefore, many environmental safety groups are concerned with the long-term effects of eating too many pesticides. While this has been in the news, many government groups like the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the FDA have agreed on an amount that’s “generally regarded as safe” to be used on the agricultural commodities produced in the United States.
The bottom line? The benefit of eating a diet rich in fruits and vegetables, which are loaded with vitamins, minerals, phytonutrients, antioxidants and fiber, has been shown to have positive effects on obesity, heart disease, digestive health, certain types of cancer, and more. See Our Comprehensive Guide to the Health Benefits of Fruits & Vegetables
HOW DO WE KNOW THIS?
Pesticides are extensively reviewed by various government regulatory agencies before being approved for use. Many factors are examined by means of extensive laboratory testing by government pesticide regulators, and all pesticides that are approved for use within this country are guaranteed safe for the environment and human consumption. The EPA, FDA and USDA work together to set limits on how much pesticide can be used on farms and how much is safe to remain on the produce once it hits supermarket shelves.
The benefits of eating fruits and vegetables outweigh any risks! In fact, check out this Residue Consumption Calculator to see just how many fruits and vegetables you would need to consume to even come close to any pesticide residues that might be harmful. Certainly minimal use of any pesticide, herbicide, or fungicide is a desired goal of both consumers and agriculture alike. After all, growers and their families live, work, and go to school on those farms and in those communities, so they want to use minimal amounts too! And for some good news … a 2008 USDA report found that 98% of fruit and vegetable samples had no detectable residue levels at all!
When it comes to fruits and vegetables, inadequate consumption among Americans is the much bigger concern. New experimental studies are emerging that demonstrate multiple effects of fruits and vegetables and their phytochemicals, suggesting that fruits and vegetables may have an even greater role to play in human health than the already positive results seen to date.
Simply Remember …
- Wash, wash, wash! Washing conventional produce can remove bacteria, dirt, and any pesticides that are on produce. Rinse all fresh fruits and vegetables under running tap water, including those with skins or rinds that are not eaten. (Packaged fruits and vegetables labeled “ready-to-eat”, “washed”, or “triple washed” do not need to be washed.)
- Organic fruits and veggies are always an option.
The bottom line? Whether conventionally grown or organic, the benefits of eating fruits and vegetables are still indisputable.