Americans need to eat more fruits and veggies! A survey conducted by Consumer Reports and published in January 2011 showed that only three in 10 Americans report eating the five or more servings of fresh fruit or vegetables per day that is recommended by health officials.
But as Americans hit the fruit and veggie isles at grocery stores in pursuit of healthier diets, they should be wary of pesticides. The Environmental Working Group (EWG) recently released its 8th annual “Dirty Dozen” and “Clean 15” lists that rank fruits and veggies according to their pesticide contamination. EWG found that 68 percent of fruit samples tested had detectable pesticide residue, which should be concerning to parents. For example, 98 percent of conventional apples, a favorite kids’ snack, were found to have pesticides. “Organophosphate pesticides are of special concern since they are associated with neurodevelopmental effects in children,” EWG toxicologist Johanna Congleton said in a press release. “Infants in particular should avoid exposure to these pesticides since they are more susceptible to the effects of chemical insult than adults.”
When shopping for fruits on the “Dirty Dozen” list, which delineates the 14 most contaminated fruits and veggies (the EWG added two more to the list beyond the usual 12 this year), try to buy organic. You’re safer with the “Clean 15,” the least contaminated fruits and vegetables. However, the EWG emphasizes that consuming traditionally produced (i.e. non-organic) fruits and vegetables is still better than consuming no vegetables at all. The benefits outweigh the threats that pesticides pose. Here’s a clickthrough of six fruits and vegetables to be wary of.