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The Environment Working Group have just published their new 2014 Shopper’s Guide to Pesticides in Produce. If you want to avoid eating weed-killer and bug-killers the list highlights the produce with the highest and lowest amounts of pesticide residues. Two-thirds of the produce samples included in the recent tests had pesticide residues.

Don't Want to Eat Bug-Killers and Weed-Killers?

In an ideal world all produce would be organic and free from pesticides, but we don’t live in an ideal world. The EWG are keen to stress that “the health benefits of a diet rich in fruits and vegetables outweigh risks of pesticide exposure”. It’s “Dirty Dozen™” and “Clean Fifteen™” lists are a great resource for prioritising which items to buy organic for those shopping on a budget.

This is a US list, so for those outside the US the pesticide levels may be different. It is also worth noting that the European Commission has banned some chemicals that are still used in the US. For example, diphenylamine (DPA) is banned from use by fruit growers in the 28 European Union member states and there are tight restrictions on imported fruit.

DPA, a growth regulator and antioxidant, is applied after harvest to most apples conventionally grown in the US and to some US-grown pears, to prevent the fruit skin from discolouring during months of cold storage. This potentially means that the number 1 offender on the Dirty Dozen™ list – apples – is of less concern for European grown produce.

Dirty Dozen™

EWG’s Dirty Dozen™ list of produce includes apples, strawberries, grapes, celery, peaches, spinach, sweet bell peppers, imported nectarines, cucumbers, cherry tomatoes, imported snap peas and potatoes. Each of these foods contained a number of different pesticide residues and showed high concentrations of pesticides relative to other produce items.

Clean Fifteen™

EWG’s Clean Fifteen™ for 2014 – the produce least likely to hold pesticide residues – are avocados, sweet corn, pineapples, cabbage, frozen sweet peas, onions, asparagus, mangoes, papayas, kiwis, eggplant, grapefruit, cantaloupe, cauliflower and sweet potatoes. Relatively few pesticides were detected on these foods, and tests found low total concentrations of pesticides.

Avocados and Pineapples

Avocados were the cleanest item of produce with only 1 percent of avocado samples showing any detectable pesticides. Some 89 percent of pineapples, 82 percent of kiwi, 80 percent of papayas, 88 percent of mango and 61 percent of cantaloupe had no residues.

You can check out the full list at: http://www.ewg.org/foodnews/

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