Pesticides in Produce

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We have heard the sayings, “an apple a day keeps the doctor away, or eat your veggies to stay healthy.”  Well, this used to be true.  Except now the biggest concern is the pesticides used on the produce and vegetables during the farming process.  This months’s issue of Consumer Reports has a very thorough article on the use of pesticides on 48 fresh conventional fruits and vegetables.  It is a shopper’s guide on what to be aware of when you purchase your fruits and vegetables.

We have seen the “Dirty Dozen” and “Clean Fifteen” lists of those fruits and vegetables to avoid and those that are safe.  The Consumer Reports article takes those into account, but the list is more exhaustive and detailed.  It covers vegetables and fruits from 14 different countries from data spanning more than 12 years from the Department of Agriculture Pesticide Data Program.

The greatest risk exposure is for children due to their metabolism rates are so different than an adults.  The toxins remain in their system longer. Plus, it affects so much more of their still developing bodies that it has lasting impacts for years to come and even to the next generation as they grow and reproduce as adults.

One way to help your children is to eat organic fruits and vegetables.  There is still exposure to pesticides, but they may not be synthetic (man made pesticides).  They can be natural pesticides.  Even with natural pesticides you can have synthetic pesticide cross contamination through drifting from wind exposure.  Eating organic lowers the exposure to harmful pesticides.  As always, wash the fruit or vegetable for at least a minute in running water to clean the outer skin or peel away the skin.

Another option is to plant and grow your own fruits and vegetables.  This way you can control the amount of pesticides used in the growth process.  One huge benefit is this gives your family something fun to do together.  We planted our garden yesterday after seeing our plants grow from seeds.  Now the fun part will come in a few weeks when we get to harvest and eat our own vegetables.

We are not able to grow our own food year round, so we need all the resources as parents to help make the best choices for our children.   I encourage you to pick up a copy of the Consumer Reports article, or you can find it here: “Eat the Peach, Not the Pesticide”.  The more detailed table is in the print version or on their web site with a subscription.