In order to keep pests from blemishing your fruits and vegetables, farmers spend a fare share of their time and budget on hundreds of chemical solutions. Here are some crazy facts from a group called Pesticide Action Network:
1. 888 million lbs of pesticide are applied each year in the US – about 3 lbs per person.
2. Atrazine, a pesticide that has been banned in Europe, is found in 71% of US drinking water. It’s a hormone disruptor.
3. An average Amercian child gets over 5 “servings” of pesticide residue in their food and water, daily
4. A single strawberry can contain 22 different pesticide residues.
What you need to know:
The problem with pesticides is that they are persistent, they stay in our food even after vigorous washing. Some accumulate in our bodies over years. Not to mention the environmental impact in the soil and water sources. Or the poor farm workers who get sick after handling these toxic chemicals on a daily basis.
The folks at Pesticide Action Network have put together a searchable database where you can see which chemicals are used on which products, and the effect on our bodies. Quite scary.
The effect these residues have on fetuses, infants, and young children is much greater than on adults, so parents should be especially wary.
But please, don’t let this be your excuse not to eat fruit and vegetables! When put into the right context, it is much riskier to your health not to get the nutrients from produce than to be exposed to the pesticide residue.
What to do at the supermarket:
So what’s a worried parent to do?
Switching to organic food seems like a great solution, only it’s out of reach for most people due to the very high price of most organic vegetables, and even higher prices for organic fruit.
An approach taken by many people is selective organic consumption, choosing to go organic for the most heavily chemically drenched products, while sticking to conventional for the rest.
Here are the “dirty dozen” which are simply put, pesticide coated produce. you should buy these organic:
Apples, Bell Peppers, Celery, Cherries, Grapes, Nectarines, Peaches, Pears, Potatoes, Raspberries, Spinach, Strawberries
And for these items, don’t spend more for organic:
Asparagus, Avocado, Bananas, Broccoli, Cauliflower, Corn, Garlic, Kiwi, Mangoes, Onions, Peas, Pineapples
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