Important Pesticide Information
Іt іs mоrе іmроrtаnt tоdау thаn еvеr bеfоrе tо рurсhаsе оrgаnіс fооd. Оrgаnіс fruіts, vеgеtаblеs, mеаt аnd dаіrу рrоduсts dо nоt hаvе thе tохіns thаt іnоrgаnіс fооd hаvе.
Wіth thе lаrgе аmоunts оf tохіns іn thе іnоrgаnіс fооd wе еаt, wе аll nееd tо еаt оrgаnіс whеnеvеr роssіblе. Еvеrу tіmе thаt уоu сhооsе соnvеntіоnаllу fаrmеd fооd оr рrосеssеd fооd оvеr оrgаnіс, уоu аrе іnсrеаsіng уоur сumulаtіvе ехроsurе tо сhеmісаls аnd rаіsіng уоur rіsk оf dіsеаsе.
Fоr ехаmрlе, соnsіdеr thе dіffеrеnсеs bеtwееn rеgulаr dаіrу соws аnd соws аt аn оrgаnіс dаіrу fаrm. Тhе соws аt а rеgulаr dаіrу аrе gіvеn hоrmоnе shоts, аntіbіоtісs, аnd lіvе іn vеrу рооr соndіtіоns. Тhе аvеrаgе lіfеsраn оf а dаіrу соw іs аbоut sеvеn оr еіght уеаrs соmраrеd tо thе lіfеsраn оf 16 уеаrs fоr а соw thаt іs wеll-саrеd fоr.
Соws аt аn оrgаnіс dаіrу аrе nоt gіvеn аnу hоrmоnе shоts оr аnу аntіbіоtісs. Тhеу аrе аllоwеd tо grаzе оn grаssу раsturеs. Тhеу thеrеfоrе gіvе mіlk thаt іs nоt tаіntеd wіth сhеmісаls, hоrmоnеs аnd іnfесtіоns.
Ву еаtіng оrgаnіс рrоduсе, mеаts аnd dаіrу, уоu аrе sаvіng уоur bоdу frоm thе tохіns fоund іn thе іnоrgаnіс рrоduсе, mеаt аnd dаіrу. Rеsеаrсh hаs shоwn thаt сhіldrеn whо rеgulаrlу еаt оrgаnіс fооd hаvе lоwеr lеvеls оf tохіс сhеmісаls іn thеіr bоdіеs thаn thоsе whо оnlу еаt соnvеntіоnаl fооd. Тhоsе tохіns buіld uр іn оur sуstеms аnd саn саusе а vаrіеtу оf dіsеаsеs.
Fаrmеrs, dаіrіеs, аnd рrосеssіng рlаnts thаt usе thе lаbеl “оrgаnіс” hаvе fоllоwеd сеrtаіn сrіtеrіа рrеsсrіbеd bу thе gоvеrnmеnt. Оnlу thоsе fооd іtеms thаt аrе trulу оrgаnіс саn bе lаbеlеd аs suсh. Ву рurсhаsіng оrgаnіс іtеms уоu саn bе аssurеd thаt саrе hаs bееn tаkеn tо еnsurе thеrе аrе nо сhеmісаls оr оthеr tохіns іn thе fооd.
Моst соmmеrсіаl mеаts іnсludіng роrk аnd bееf, unlеss оrgаnіс, соntаіn аntіbіоtісs, hоrmоnеs аnd tоо mаnу роlуunsаturаtеd fаts. Тhеrеfоrе, thеу shоuld аll bе аvоіdеd. Тhе сlеаnеst fооd іs оrgаnіс fооd, реrіоd.
Оf аll thе mеаts, іt іs mоst іmроrtаnt tо gеt оrgаnіс сhісkеn. Сhісkеns аrе thе mоst іntеnsеlу fаrmеd mеаts аnd аrе thеrеfоrе gіvеn сhеmісаls tо mаkе thеm grоw fаstеr аnd bіggеr. Gооd оrgаnіс сhісkеn іs full оf іrоn, zіnс аnd vіtаmіn В12, vіtаmіns аnd mіnеrаls thаt аrе vеrу іmроrtаnt tо gооd hеаlth.
Оnе оf thе bеst thіngs уоu саn dо fоr уоur bоdу іs tо еаt аt lеаst twеlvе sеrvіngs оf frеsh, оrgаnіс fruіts аnd vеgеtаblеs еvеrу sіnglе dау. Ву еаtіng thе сеrtіfіеd оrgаnіс vеrsіоns оf thеsе fооd уоu wіll bеnеfіt frоm thеіr еnеrgу-bооstіng роwеr еvеn mоrе thаn еаtіng іnоrgаnіс.
Ѕtudіеs dоnе оn оrgаnіс рrоduсе vеrsus іnоrgаnіс hаvе shоwn thаt оrgаnіс vеgеtаblеs соntаіn sіgnіfісаntlу іnсrеаsеd аmоunts оf vіtаmіns аnd mіnеrаls whеn соmраrеd tо іnоrgаnіс рrоduсе. Тhеrеfоrе, уоu саn еаt smаllеr sеrvіngs аnd stіll gеt muсh mоrе оf thе vіtаmіns аnd mіnеrаls уоu nееd еасh dау thаn іf уоu аtе іnоrgаnіс.
Тоdау thе vаrіеtу оf оrgаnіс fооd іs аstоundіng. А раrtіаl lіst оf оrgаnіс fооd аvаіlаblе іnсludеs оаts, buttеr, еggs, whеаt flоur, sugаr, mіlk, mеаts, аnd mаnу fruіts аnd vеgеtаblеs.
Fоr реорlе whо еnјоу а lіttlе dеssеrt, thеrе’s nоthіng unhеаlthу аbоut а саkе mаdе wіth whоlе whеаt flоur, оrgаnіс buttеr, frее-rаngе еggs – аs lоng аs уоu dоn’t еаt thе lоt аt оnе sіttіng. Сhооsе оrgаnіс whеn уоu саn fоr іngrеdіеnts suсh аs sugаr, flоur, оаts, fruіts іnсludіng саndіеd аnd drіеd fruіts, mіlk, еggs, аnd buttеr.
Оrgаnіс іtеms оftеn соst mоrе, but thе соsts оf nоt еаtіng оrgаnіс саn bе еvеn bіggеr аs уоu wіll lіkеlу hаvе hіghеr hеаlthсаrе bіlls аnd а lіfеtіmе оf dіsеаsе аnd іllnеss.
50 Fruits and Vegetables & Pesticide Rankings
|Rank||Fruit or Veggie|
|3||Sweet Corn (Frozen)|
|5||Mango (Subtropical and Tropical)|
|6||Sweet Peas (Frozen)|
|8||Kiwi Fruit (Subtropical and Tropical)|
|29||Green Beans (Imported)|
|34||Green Beans (Domestic)|
|40||Kale / Collard Greens|
|43||Sweet Bell Peppers|
Important Pesticide Information
Reduce Your Pesticide Exposures
Should we eat more fruits and vegetables?
Yes! According to U.S. Department of Agriculture data, Americans have been eating roughly the same quantities of fruits and vegetables for some years (ERS 2010). For instance, in 1997, every American ate an average of 100.42 pounds of fresh fruit. In 2007, the number was 100.21 pounds. EPA data confirms information.
This flat trend worries nutritionists, who recommend that adults and children consume at least two servings of fruits and three servings of vegetables daily (CDC 2009). The federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that this advice is routinely ignored: less than a third of adults meet the current guidelines. Even more troubling, only one in three high school students ate enough fruit, and less than one in five ate the recommended number of vegetables (CDC 2009).
The health benefits of a diet rich in fruits and vegetables outweigh the risks of pesticide exposure. Eating conventionally grown produce is far better than skipping fruits and vegetables. But with My Organic Food Buying Club you don’t have to choose between pesticides and healthy diets.
How much pesticide is on conventionally raised produce?
Pesticides are detected in 7 of every 10 fruit and vegetable samples tested.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s most recent round of produce tests have found widespread pesticide contamination on popular fruits and vegetables:
- One or more pesticides on 70.3 percent of samples tested.
- Between 5 and 13 different pesticide residues tainted one of every 10 fruit or vegetable samples.
Do all these pesticides mean I shouldn’t eat fruits and vegetables?
No, eat your fruits and vegetables! The health benefits of a diet rich in fruits and vegetables outweigh the risks of pesticide exposure. My Organic Food Club offers ONLY Organic Food to reduce your exposures as much as possible, but eating conventionally grown produce is far better than not eating fruits and vegetables at all.
Why should I be concerned about pesticides?
Pesticides are toxic by design.
They are created expressly to kill living organisms — insects, plants, and fungi that are considered “pests.”
Many pesticides pose health dangers to people. These risks have been established by independent research scientists and physicians across the world.
As acknowledged by U.S. and international government agencies, different pesticides have been linked to a variety of health problems, including:
- nervous system toxicity
- hormone system effects
- skin, eye and lung irritation
Should I completely avoid eating celery or blueberries or other produce items on your list?
No, that has never been the message. We would certainly recommend produce from our list in lieu of other, less-healthy foods or snacks, like fat or sugar-laden processed products. But with My Organic Food Club you can have all the benefits of eating more produce while substantially reducing dietary exposure to pesticides.
Chemical farming interests claim that 98 percent of fresh fruits and vegetables tested have no detectable residues. Who’s right?
The pro-chemical agriculture lobby cites the same USDA testing initiative used by MOFC — the Pesticide Data Program (Blythe 2010). We wish its claim were true. But in fact, the USDA reports that pesticide contamination is 35 times more frequent than the industry asserts.
The industry lumps together all individual USDA analyses without taking into account the overall study design. USDA tests each fruit and vegetable sample for dozens and sometimes hundreds of chemicals, but since most of these compounds are not approved for use on the particular crop being tested, it stands to reason that most won’t be found. Consequently, 98 percent of tests for individual chemicals are returned from the laboratory as “non-detects.” Still, a number of pesticides are approved for each crop. Consequently, most fruit and vegetable samples are found to be contaminated: USDA detected one or more pesticides in 7 of every 10 samples analyzed in 2008, the most recent year for which data are available.
Important Pesticide Information Video
All told, our analyses show that since 2001 USDA has detected 215 different pesticides in fresh fruits and vegetables sold in the U.S., including 35 pesticides that each pollute at least 15 types of produce, such as apples, grapes, strawberries, sweet corn and other children’s favorites.
The bottom line: if you eat in America, unless you’re on an all-organics diet, you eat pesticides.
What can I do to reduce my exposure to pesticides?
You can reduce your exposure to pesticides by buying organic whenever possible. The Shopper’s Guide will help you determine which fruits and vegetables have the most pesticide residues and so are the most important to buy organic. You can lower your pesticide consumption by nearly four-fifths by avoiding the 12 most contaminated fruits and vegetables and instead eating the least contaminated produce, according to MOFC calculations.
Shouldn’t I try to buy everything organic?
My Organic Food Club recommends buying organic whenever possible. Not only is it smart to reduce your exposure to pesticides, but buying organic sends a message that you support environmentally friendly farming practices that minimize soil erosion, safeguard water quality and protect wildlife.
However, we know that organics are not accessible or affordable for everyone, so we created the chart to help consumers make the healthiest choices given their circumstances.
My Organic Food Club always recommends eating fruits and vegetables, even conventionally grown, over processed foods and other less healthy alternatives.
What if I wash and peel my fruits and vegetables?
The data used to create the chart is from produce tested as it is typically eaten. This means washed and, when applicable, peeled. For example, bananas are peeled before testing, and blueberries and peaches are washed. Because all produce has been thoroughly cleaned before analysis, washing a fruit or vegetable would not change its rank in the MOFC chart (i.e. washing a conventional apple will not make it less contaminated).
MOFC has not evaluated various “produce washes” for efficacy or potentially toxicity. However, given that many pesticides are taken up by the plant as a whole and so are present not only on the skin, it is unlikely that using these products would be more effective than thorough washing at lowering pesticide levels. The safest choice is to use chart to avoid conventional versions those fruits and vegetables with the highest pesticide residues.
How do you determine a fruit or vegetable’s ranking?
We rank fruits and vegetables by their likelihood of being consistently contaminated with the greatest number of pesticides at the highest levels.
We combine six different measures of contamination to come up with composite score for each type of produce.
The six measures of contamination we use are:
- Percent of the samples tested with detectable pesticides
- Percent of the samples with two or more pesticides
- Average number of pesticides found on a sample
- Average amount (level in parts per million) of all pesticides found
- Maximum number of pesticides found on a single sample
- Number of pesticides found on the commodity in total
Is there a difference between domestic and imported produce?
The MOFC chart is based on samples of produce available to the US consumer and includes both domestic and imported produce. We don’t currently have specific comparisons of the difference between domestic and imported for all fruits and vegetables. However, if we noted an extreme difference in the score of a food’s imported and domestic versions, we noted this in the ranking.
What does “organic” mean?
“Organic” is a designation used by the US Department of Agriculture National Organic Program to certify food that is produced without synthetic chemicals or fertilizers, genetic engineering, radiation or sewage sludge.
Have pesticides been detected in people’s bodies?
Yes. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s national biomonitoring program has detected pesticides in blood and urine samples from 95.6 percent of more than 5,000 Americans age 6 and older. (CDC 2009).
The agency reported finding 21 chemical biomarkers corresponding to 28 pesticides that can contaminate fresh fruits and vegetables, according to an MOFC analysis of CDC and EPA data.
Do we know all there is to know about pesticide pollution in people?
No. Americans are likely polluted with far more pesticides than current studies report. Agribusiness and pesticide companies are not required to determine whether their chemicals are present in people, not even compounds that widely contaminate the food supply. The CDC national biomonitoring program has likely only scratched the surface in its efforts to determine the human body burden of pesticide.
Do pesticides pose special risks to growing children?
Pesticides are designed to kill living organisms. The implications of wide-scale pesticide pollution of Americans’ bodies have not been explored. But a few studies of neurotoxic organophosphate compounds used on some fruits and vegetables have found that children face increased risks for neurological problems.
Industrial produce operators and pesticide interests claim that no studies link pesticide residues in the diet to health risks. The government has not done the studies that would answer the many questions about pesticides’ impact on health. Neither has the industry. But it is obvious that absence of evidence doesn’t mean evidence of absence.
There is an extensive body of evidence demonstrating that pesticides harm workers, damage the environment and are toxic to laboratory animals. EPA is responsible for setting standards for pesticides in food that allow a sufficient margin of safety between human exposures and amounts known to be harmful.
But because of the complexity of people’s diets, the variation in pesticide residues on foods and other lifestyle, genetic and environmental factors contributing to disease, it is difficult to pinpoint the risks of pesticides in the diet.
What about the special dangers to children of organophosphate pesticides?
In 1999, the year before organophosphate pesticides were restricted, they accounted for about half of all insecticides used in the U.S. (EPA 1999). Organophosphate pesticides have been shown to damage nervous system function by blocking acetylcholinesterase, an enzyme that stops nerve cells from firing. When nerve cells fire unceasingly, acute poisoning or long-term nerve damage can result. Children are believed to be at higher risk for permanent effects from organophosphates, but neurotoxins can harm people of any age.
EPA estimates that 40 percent of children tested by CDC from 1999 to 2002 had unsafe levels of organophosphate in their bodies above standard margins of safety (Paynes-Sturges 2009). Researchers from Emory University in Atlanta have reported that young children are exposed to organophosphates primarily through their diets. (Lu 2008).
In May 2010 researchers at Harvard University found increased risk for attention deficit-hyperactive disorder (ADHD) among American children exposed to typical levels of organophosphates. Scientists analyzing CDC biomonitoring data on organophosphate pesticide exposure for 1,139 children 8 to 15 years old, tested from 2000 to 2004 (Bouchard 2010) found that every tenfold increase in dimethyl alkylphosphate (DMAP), an organophosphate metabolite in the body, corresponded to a 55 to 72 percent increase in the odds of ADHD diagnosis. Effects of organophosphates were most pronounced among children with the hyperactive/impulsive subtype rather than a primarily inattentive ADHD.
Two other studies link prenatal organophosphate exposures to increased risk of pervasive developmental disorders (Bouchard 2010 citing Rauh 2006, Eskenazi 2007). Minority children residing in New York City were found to be at greater risk of attention problems, ADHD and pervasive developmental disorder if they had been exposed to chlorpyrifos in the womb, as measured by umbilical cord blood concentrations at birth (Rauh 2006). Children of farmworkers in California’s Salinas Valley performed more poorly on standardized neurobehavioral tests when their bodies carried residues of dialkyl phosphates (organophosphate metabolites) in utero or during early life (Eskenazi 2007). Other studies in U.S. and Ecuadorian agricultural areas have associated post-natal exposures to organophosphates with behavioral problems, pervasive developmental disorder, poorer short-term memory and longer reaction times (Eskenazi 2007, and Bouchard 2010 citing Grandjean 2006, Ruckart 2004, Rohlman 2005).
Children are at increased risk for high organophosphate exposure because they eat more fruits and vegetables than adults, relative to their body weights, and because they tend to eat with their hands, consuming contaminated dirt and dust. Studies in a California agricultural region have shown that infants are more at risk for organophosphate toxicity than older children and adults because their systems are less able to detoxify these chemicals People with lower activity of a detoxifying enzyme known as PON1 are also more susceptible to organophosphate toxicity. The most sensitive newborn was found to be 65 to 130 times more affected than the least sensitive adult (Furlong 2006, Holland 2006).
A 1993 report by the National Academy of Sciences concluded that “infants and children differ both qualitatively and quantitatively from adults in their exposure to pesticide residues in foods” and that some children exceeded safe levels of pesticides in their diets (NAS 1993).
Over the past 15 years EPA eliminated some major uses of organophosphates that posed the greatest dangers to children, including home insecticides and some food uses, but children continue to be exposed to organophosphates in other common foods.
Will eating organic food lower pesticide body burdens?
Yes. Studies led by Chensheng Lu of Emory University found that concentrations of organophosphate pesticides, including chlorpyrifos and malathion, in elementary school-age children’s bodies peaked during the summer, when they ate the most fresh produce. But just five days after switching to an all-organic diet, tests found their bodies essentially pesticide-free.
(Lu 2006, 2008).
Are imported fruits and vegetables laced with chemicals not approved for use on U.S. food and not tested by FDA inspectors?
In a study of Costa Rican farmers growing produce for the U.S. market, Dr. Ryan Galt of the University of California at Davis found that 12 of 15 pesticides used on squash, and 5 of 47 on chayote were not registered for use on foods in the U.S. FDA inspection tests did not cover 71percent of the chemicals used on squash and 61percent used on chayote. (Galt 2009). Some of these chemicals, notably n-methyl carbamates, were highly toxic. Galt found that U.S. agencies made little effort to determine which pesticides were being used in Costa Rica and that Costa Rican farmers had little access to Spanish language information about U.S. pesticide standards.
Between 1996 and 2006, 1.6 percent of domestic crops violated pesticide safety standards in FDA inspections, while imported crops earned violations at 2.25 times that rate (FDA 2008).
Has EPA ordered some of the most toxic food pesticides off the market?
Since 1996, EPA has barred pesticide uses in 6,224 instances, including some considered to pose the greatest risks to children (EPA OIG 2010). The 1996 Food Quality Protection Act requires EPA to review the safety of each particular use of each agricultural pesticide at least once every 15 years. The agency’s goal is to review of all current pesticide uses by 2014.
EPA’s actions under the federal Food Quality Protection Act of 1996 have been credited for major reductions in pesticide pollution, particularly those on foods commonly eaten by children. EPA’s Office of Inspector General estimates that specific actions on methyl parathion, chlorpyrifos and diazinon reduced the total pesticide dietary risk by 98 percent for “high-risk” domestic crops (EPA OIG 2006), particularly those eaten often by young children.
EPA can be expected to bar more pesticide uses as scientists learn more about the mechanisms by which pesticides can harm the human body, and as the agency adopts a stronger stance on protecting public health from pesticides.
Among EPA’s major public health successes:
- EPA and manufacturers agreed to cancel some uses of methyl parathion—a compound considered to be the most toxic organophosphate—after a risk assessment showed that its use was not safe for anyone. The EPA decision reduced children’s dietary risks by an estimated 90 percent (EPA 2006).
- EPA phased out most non-agricultural uses of chlorpyrifos (Dursban) and restricted its use on tomatoes and apples (EPA 2008).
- EPA barred diazinon use on about 20 different crops, primarily vegetables (EPA 2007).
- EPA barred the neurotoxic pesticide carbofuran for all food crops at the end of 2009.
Are new pesticides safer?
Many toxic organophosphate and carbamate pesticides illegal for use on some fruits and vegetables have been replaced by chemicals called pyrethroids and neonicotinoids.
Neonicotinoids, a class of pesticides similar to nicotine, comprise the fastest growing class of insecticides. They are more environmentally persistent than other common insecticides but used in lower amounts. According to some studies, humans may not be intensely susceptible to neonicotinoid toxicity because the blood-brain barrier blocks many of these compounds from entering the body (Vale 2009).
EPA has approved 6 neonicotinoids for food uses: imidacloprid, acetamiprid, thiacloprid, thiamethoxam, clothianidin and dinotefuran.
USDA produce testing has found imidacloprid on 23 kinds of fruits and vegetables, including apples, peaches, broccoli and blueberries.
Animal studies have found that neonicotinoid exposures during gestation and early life may permanently alter nervous system functions. A 2008 study by researchers at Duke University Medical Center and the Department of Veterans’ Affairs Medical Center in Durham, N.C., found that rats tested with a single large dose of one of these chemicals, called imidacloprid, during pregnancy exhibited changes to nervous system activity and sensorimotor impairment at post-natal day 30 (corresponding to early adolescence in a human). The treated animals had increased nervous system enzyme activity in the brain and blood plasma. The authors concluded that treated animals had significant neurobehavioral deficits that may have “long-term adverse health effects” (Abou-Donia 2008).
France, Germany, Italy and Slovenia have barred neonicotinoids from use in treating seeds because they are toxic to honeybees and have been implicated in global bee colony collapses (EPA 2010). The European Union and Japan have set limits for residues of these compounds on food.
EPA has scheduled a review of these compounds for 2012.
Are health agencies making progress to reduce pesticide contamination in food?
Some states are working to reduce pesticide use while the federal government chips away at the highest-risk uses by gradually tightening food safety standards.
The California Department of Pesticide Regulation has reported that the “use of most pesticide categories decreased from 2007 to 2008… [and] chemicals classified as reproductive toxins decreased in pounds applied from 2007 to 2008 (down 1.7 million pounds or 10 percent) and decreased in acres treated” (CA DPR 2008).
Health agencies have been concerned about pesticide toxicity and have monitored residues in food since at least the early 1900s. The issue was first raised in the U.S. when a Boston health inspector determined that the white substance coating pears on fruit stands was arsenic (CA DPR 2001). In the 1920s, reported illnesses and seizures from contaminated fruit raised widespread public alarms about arsenic residues on produce.
In 1926, California passed the Chemical Spray Residue Act. The U.S. Bureau of Chemistry set federal pesticide limits in 1927. California and the U.S. government have been monitoring pesticide levels on produce ever since.
How effective is the Food Quality Protection Act of 1996?
This act, among the strongest of U.S. public health laws, requires the EPA to set health-based standards for pesticides in food, considering exposure from water, indoor air, and food and cumulative pesticides risks. It has stressed protection of infants, children and other vulnerable people.
But agribusiness and pesticide companies have fought to weaken key protections in the law (Hornstein 2007). The American Crop Protection Association, which represents the pesticide industry, has waged a successful lobbying campaign to overturn EPA’s decision to incorporate a tenfold margin of safety in food standards in order to protect children/
When EPA’s Office of Research and Development recommended requiring pesticide companies to conduct a powerful, sensitive developmental neurotoxicity study, the industry balked, claiming that the study would be difficult and expensive. It prevailed, at a cost to children’s health that may never be fully known.