The Dirty Dozen

An ap­ple a day may no longer be enough. If you re­ally want to keep the doc­tor away, you may need to make that ap­ple or­ganic

Santa Fe New Mexican - Healthy Living - - NEWS - BY PA­TRI­CIA WEST-BARKER

While there is still some de­bate as to whether or­ganic pro­duce is more nu­tri­tious than con­ven­tion­ally raised fruits and veg­eta­bles, re­search is be­gin­ning to show that peo­ple who eat or­ganic foods do con­sume fewer pes­ti­cides. The En­vi­ron­men­tal Work­ing Group, which has been test­ing pro­duce for pes­ti­cide residues for more than a decade, re­ports that a 2015 study at the Univer­sity of Wash­ing­ton “found that peo­ple who re­port they ‘of­ten or al­ways’ buy or­ganic pro­duce had sig­nif­i­cantly less organophos­phate in­sec­ti­cides in their urine sam­ples … even though they re­ported eat­ing 70 per­cent more serv­ings of fruits and veg­eta­bles per day than adults re­port­ing they ‘rarely or never’ pur­chase or­ganic pro­duce.”

Avoid­ing high lev­els of pes­ti­cide ex­po­sure is es­pe­cially im­por­tant for preg­nant women and chil­dren, who are more sus­cep­ti­ble to phys­i­cal and men­tal dam­age from toxic in­sec­ti­cides.

To make it eas­ier for con­sumers to know when it’s im­por­tant to go or­ganic and when it’s OK to choose con­ven­tional pro­duce, the En­vi­ron­men­tal Work­ing Group — a non­profit watch­dog or­ga­ni­za­tion — puts out its Shop­per’s Guide to Pes­ti­cides in Pro­duce most years. The two lists in the guide — the Dirty Dozen and the Clean Fif­teen — iden­tify the most con­tam­i­nated and the safest con­ven­tion­ally grown fruits and veg­eta­bles from sam­ples tested by the USDA and the Food and Drug Ad­min­is­tra­tion.

High­lights of the 2017 Dirty Dozen

More than 98 per­cent of straw­ber­ries, spinach, nec­tarines, peaches, cher­ries and ap­ples sam­pled tested pos­i­tive for at least one kind of pes­ti­cide residue. A sin­gle sam­ple of straw­ber­ries showed 20 dif­fer­ent pes­ti­cides. On av­er­age, spinach sam­ples had twice as much pes­ti­cide residue by weight as any other crop.

Pears and pota­toes were new ad­di­tions to the Dirty Dozen, dis­plac­ing cherry toma­toes and cu­cum­bers from last year’s list.

The Dirty Dozen Plus

This year’s list high­lights hot pep­pers, which can con­tain in­sec­ti­cides toxic to the hu­man ner­vous sys­tem. If you of­ten eat hot pep­pers and can­not find or af­ford the or­ganic va­ri­ety, EWG rec­om­mends that you cook them; cook­ing of­ten low­ers pes­ti­cide lev­els.

High­lights of the 2017 Clean Fif­teen

Av­o­ca­dos and sweet corn were the clean­est of all the pro­duce tested. Only 1 per­cent of sam­ples showed any pes­ti­cide residue.

More than 80 per­cent of pineap­ples, pa­payas, as­para­gus, onions and cab­bage were free of pes­ti­cide residue.

No sin­gle fruit sam­ple on the Clean Fif­teen list tested pos­i­tive for more than four types of pes­ti­cides.

Only 5 per­cent of Clean Fif­teen veg­etable sam­ples had two or more pes­ti­cides.

For more in­for­ma­tion about all of the pro­grams of the En­vi­ron­men­tal Work­ing Group and com­plete lists rank­ing 48 dif­fer­ent fruits and veg­eta­bles, go to ewg.org. A $15 dona­tion to EWG will get you a Shop­per’s

Guide to Pes­ti­cides in Pro­duce tag for your re­us­able shop­ping bag.

PHOTO GENE PEACH

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