Essentials, FDN, Health

Pesticides in Produce 2016 Guide

EWG_2016PesticidesInProduceGuideThe Environmental Working Group ( has just released their 2016 Produce shoppers guide. (If you click on the image you can print out a copy of the guide). While they offer a tremendous amount of information on their website I thought it would be important to highlight a few key points.

  • In 2014 the USDA tested 6,953 samples of produce and nearly three-quarters of them contained pesticide residue in spite of an ever increasing demand by consumers for food without chemicals. A 146 different pesticides were discovered on those samples. The pesticides persisted on the fruits and veggies tested even when they were washed and in some cases peeled. (The reason that pesticides are located in the flesh of the produce is in some cases due to permeability of the skin where the pesticides migrate through, but in most cases the pesticides are absorbed into the plant through the roots by way of the soil. In other words, you can’t get away from pesticides in conventionally grown produce).
  • The Dirty Dozen™ are the produce with the highest pesticide loads. They include strawberries, apples, nectarines, peaches, celery, grapes, cherries, spinach, tomatoes, sweet bell peppers, cherry tomatoes and cucumber. Of the list, strawberries are the worst offender.
    • Key Findings:
      • More than 98% of strawberry, peaches, nectarines and apples tested positive for at least one pesticide
      • The average potato has more pesticides by weight than any other produce
      • Single samples of strawberries showed 17 different pesticides
  • Dirty Dozen PLUS™. Two types of food contained trace levels of highly hazardous pesticides. Leafy Greens (especially kale and collard greens) and hot peppers did not meet the requirements to be part of the Dozen but were frequently found to be contaminated with insecticides toxic to the human nervous system. (if you are going to consume any of the Dirty Dozen™ including the PLUS is is strongly encouraged that you consume go organic. While the exposure to toxins per serving may be “low” the impact upon the body is cumulative). These particularly toxic pesticides included organophosphates and carbamate insecticides.
  • The Clean Fifteen™ are the least likely to contain pesticide residue. These include avocados, sweet corn, pineapples, cabbage, frozen sweet peas, onions, asparagus, mangoes, papayas, kiwis, eggplant, honeydew melon, grapefruit, cantaloupe and cauliflower. There were relatively few pesticides detected on these foods with low concentrations if found.
    • Key Findings:
      • Avocados were the cleanest with only 1% of samples showing any detectable pesticides
      • 89% of pineapples, 81% of papayas, 78% of mangoes, 73% or kiwi and 62% of cantaloupes had no residues
      • No single fruit sample fro the 15 tested positive for more than 4 types of pesticides
      • Only 5.5% of of the Clean Fifteen had two or more pesticides

How to avoid pesticides and other chemical toxins in your produce

Smart shopping requires knowledge and making choices. Just because it is sold as food does not mean it is food or that it’s safe for you, your children or loved one’s to consume. If you consume organic produce you will eat fewer pesticides. The key word is fewer. Several long-term studies have indicated that organophosphates may impair children’s brain development. In 2012, the American Academy of Pediatrics issued a report that said that children have “unique susceptibilities to pesticide residues’ potential toxicity.” The organization cited research that linked pesticide exposures in early life to pediatric cancers, decreased cognitive function, and behavioral problems.” (This should not be a surprise as children do not have a fully formed mucosal barrier to keep toxins and pollutants from entering general circulation and their detoxification pathways have also not fully developed. Research also shows that if your intestinal mucosal barrier has increased permeability, so does your blood brain barrier).

Is it any wonder that we are seeing so many children with developmental issues and diseases and adults manifesting cognitive disorders and diseases of brain tissue earlier in life than their parents? Is it too difficult to put two and two together? Luckily you have options, you can make choices and become educated to the reality of the situation. In addition, you can reduce and even reverse health challenges related to exposure to chemicals, pesticides, heavy metals and other toxins. You can functionally test the pathways that are involved in adapting to and resolving the effects of these stressors. This is all part of what I do with my D.R.E.S.S. for Health Success® Lifestyle Grounding Program. Eliminating or reducing exposure to pesticides and strengthening your body’s natural defenses are one step along the path to Looking & Feeling Your Best!

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