EWG 2018 Guide to Produce Pesticides

Reader Contribution by The Environmental Working Group
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Finding fruits and vegetables at your typical grocery store that have been grown without the extensive use of pesticides can be difficult. Fortunately, The Environmental Working Group (EWG) has done all of the work for you in finding healthy and pesticide-free produce.

EWG has created the 2018 Shopper’s Guide to Pesticides in Produce™, which helps shoppers to find uncontaminated produce. Many consumers do not realize that pesticides residues are very common on conventionally grown produce products, even after they have been washed or peeled. Because of this, EWG has created their series of guides to lead consumers to safer food choices.

In order to create these guides, EWG analyzed the USDA pesticides tests, which found a total of 230 different pesticides and pesticides breakdown products on thousands of produce samples. Analyzing this information, EWG observed the massive differences of the amount of pesticides found from product to product.

The guide’s two main components are two compiled lists highlighting the cleanest and dirtiest produce concerning pesticides. These two lists, Dirty Dozen™ and Clean Fifteen™, show consumers how certain foods continue to carry trace amounts of pesticides with them all the way to the grocery store shelves, while others make it to your kitchen virtually pesticide-free.

Some of the highlights from their analyses included the following findings:

• More than one-third of strawberry samples analyzed in 2016 contained 10 or more pesticide residues and breakdown products.

• Spinach samples had, on average, almost twice as much pesticide residue by weight compared to any other crop.

• No single fruit sample from the Clean Fifteen tested positive for more than four pesticides.

“With EWG’s guide, consumers can fill their fridges and fruit bowls with plenty of healthy conventional and organic produce that isn’t contaminated with multiple pesticide residue,” said Sonya Lunder, a senior analyst with EWG.

Only 25 years ago, the National Academy of Sciences raised concerns about exposure to toxic pesticides in our food, yet consumers still consumers a mixture of pesticides every day in America. Since fruits and vegetables are a part of a healthy and recommend diet, it is hard to escape the need to consume them, and as we are seeing through these guides, it is also hard to escape consuming pesticides.

Furthermore, many of these individual pesticides have been tested to ascertain how harmful they can be to consumers, particularly children. The insecticide chlorpyrifos, which is applied to apples, bell peppers, peaches, nectarines and other produce, was discovered to cause damage to harm children’s brains and nervous systems. While the EPA was slated to ban all uses of chlorpyrifos, EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt reversed this course of action after the manufacturers of the insecticides complained, leaving many produces to be contaminated with the harmful chemical.


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