Each year our friends at the Environmental Working Group (EWG) put out a list of the Dirty Dozen and Clean 15. Never heard of it? You need to know about this if you care about your health and want to avoid pesticides.
These lists comprise a Shopper’s Guide of the latest fruit and vegetable pesticide testing data from the Department of Agriculture and Food and Drug Administration. EWG analyzes the data and ranks the top 12 dirtiest and top 15 cleanest fruits and vegetables when it comes to pesticide contamination. The 2023 guide includes data from 46,569 samples of 46 fruits and vegetables. Some of the produce that made it on the list might surprise you.
- Kale, collard, and mustard greens
- Bell and hot peppers
- Green beans
- Sweet potatoes
- Honeydew melon
- Sweet peas (frozen)
- Sweet corn
Pesticides – What and Where
So, what is a pesticide? Pesticides are poisons. Agricultural pests are their targets. However, they are toxic and can be lethal for humans when we are exposed. Specifically, people can be exposed to pesticides through drift from farms, through domestic pest control, if exposed to preservative treated wood or anti-parasitic animal treatments (such as sheep dip). Additionally, in more urban settings parks, playgrounds, and private gardens are often sprayed with pesticides. Lastly, pesticides are found in many American kitchens in the form of residue on the food we buy. Notice that’s “in” – not “on.” Pesticides permeate the skin of the fruits and vegetables, making it impossible to merely wash them off as many people believe.
According to the Pesticide Action Network, UK, pesticides can “cause harmful or lethal effects after a single episode or ingestion, inhalation, or skin contact.” They go on to say that symptoms can include:
- Respiratory tract irritation, sore throat, and/or cough
- Allergic sensitization
- Nausea, vomiting, diarrhea
- Headache or loss of consciousness
- Extreme weakness, seizures, and/or death
Still, these are more immediate symptoms which can happen anytime in the first 48 hours after exposure. In addition, serious health issues have also been linked to long-term exposure. Those issues include:
- Parkinson’s disease
- Depression and anxiety
- Cancer – including leukemia and non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma
Regarding Parkinson’s Disease and other neurological disorders, pesticides become endocrine disruptors interfering with hormones and hormone balance. Hormones regulate different functions in the body. In addition to neurological problems, exposure to even low levels of pesticides can:
- Result in decreased fertility in men and women, as well as testicular and prostate cancer
- Early puberty, ovarian cysts, breast cancer, and pregnancy complications
- And thyroid problems including tumors
Unfortunately, the EWG’s list shows the state of our produce. Clearly, too much of our produce contains many different types of pesticides that are found in too high a quantity. In fact, according to EWG, “Nearly 75 percent of non-organic fresh produce sold in the U.S. contains residues of potentially harmful pesticides.”
Don’t purchase conventionally grown produce if you are concerned about the health hazards associated with pesticides. Instead, purchase organic fruits and vegetables. Eating organic is the fastest way to significantly reduce your exposure to pesticides. Produce in most major supermarkets is clearly labeled organic. Do you like to shop at farmer’s markets? Get to know your local farmers. Ask them if they grow organically or conventionally. Many small farmers use organic methods. Unfortunately, organic certification is pricey. Many small farmers simply can’t afford the certification. Give them your support. You’ll benefit from high quality, locally grown, organic produce! According to studies conducted by Friends of the Earth, the results were clear that “switching to an organic diet rapidly and dramatically reduces exposure to pesticides.”
Making organic produce and organic or wild caught meat a part of your 100 Year Lifestyle will significantly contribute to your living 100:100 – at 100% for 100 years or more. So will making an appointment with a 100 Year Lifestyle provider near you today!