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Contaminated Fruits And Vegetables: The Best And The Worst

Have you ever wondered which fruits and vegetables are the least and most contaminated with pesticides? Organic produce is not always available... so what does one do? A study released by the Environmental Working Group in 2003 revealed the following:

12 Least Contaminated Fruits and Vegetables (When purchasing conventionally grown - non-organic)

  • Asparagus
  • Avocados
  • Bananas
  • Broccoli
  • Cauliflower
  • Corn (sweet)
  • Kiwi
  • Mangos
  • Onions
  • Papaya
  • Pineapples
  • Peas (sweet)

*notice that many of these we don't eat the skin*

12 Most Contaminated Fruits and Vegetables (When purchasing conventionally grown - non-organic)
  • Apples
  • Bell Peppers
  • Celery
  • Cherries
  • Imported Grapes
  • Nectarines
  • Peaches
  • Pears
  • Potatoes
  • Red Raspberries
  • Spinach
  • Strawberries

*notice that all of these have relatively thin skins... which we usually eat.*

In the study all of the foods used were washed and prepared for eating prior to testing. Washing and preparation were performed according to USDA guidelines i.e. bananas were peeled, pineapples had their skins removed, and apples were washed and cored.

There's little doubt that thoroughly washing fruits and vegetables with cold water will help to reduce your exposure to pesticide residues. However, it's impossible to avoid eating pesticides that are mixed in with the flesh of fruits and vegetables. These pesticides are taken up internally from the soil in which the plants are grown.

Clearly, it is best to eat mainly organic varieties of the 12 most contaminated fruits and vegetables. If organic varieties are not available, you can add the juice of half a lemon and 1 teaspoon of sea salt to a basin of water and use this mixture to wash your non-organic produce. Sea salt, lemon, and water combine to form a mildly acidic solution that can be more effective than water alone at removing surface pesticide residues.