Washington, DC - Environmental Working Group (EWG) delivers the sixth edition of its Shopper’s Guide to Pesticides with updated information on 49 fruits and vegetables and their total pesticide load. EWG highlights the worst offenders with its “Dirty Dozen” list and the cleanest conventional produce with its “Clean Fifteen” list. http://www.foodnews.org
Analysts at EWG synthesized data collected from the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) from 2000 to 2008. Produce is ranked based on a composite score, equally weighing six factors that examine how many pesticides are on the produce and at what levels. All samples are washed and peeled prior to being tested for pesticides, so the rankings reflect the amounts of the chemicals likely present on the food when is it eaten.
Notable changes in the new guide include ranking celery as the most contaminated produce, replacing peaches. Included in the guide for the first time are domestic and imported cultivated blueberries, which in previous years lacked sufficient data to be included in the analysis. Wild blueberries, typically packaged as frozen blueberries, are not included in the analysis.
New to EWG’s Clean Fifteen list are cantaloupe, grapefruit and honeydew, while broccoli, tomatoes and papayas fell off. Onions, avocado and sweet corn remains the cleanest produce.
“Though buying organic is always the best choice, we know that sometimes it’s too expensive or just not an option,” says EWG’s Amy Rosenthal. “This unique information is crucial for shoppers looking to decrease their exposure to pesticides while still getting all the health benefits of fruits and vegetables.”
Pesticides can be extremely toxic to human health and the environment. U.S. and international government agencies alike have linked pesticides to nervous system toxicity, cancer, and hormone system disruption. EWG’s Shopper’s Guide to Pesticides helps consumers decide when it is most important to buy organic.
“Pesticides are toxins. They can’t be good for you. The only question is how bad they are,” says Dr. Andrew Weil, renowned medical expert on natural health and wellness. “I think in many cases the answer is pretty bad.”
Consumers can lower their pesticide consumption by nearly four-fifths by avoiding conventionally grown varieties of the 12 most contaminated fruits and vegetables. Eating non-organic produce from EWG’s Dirty Dozen list exposes individuals to an average of 10 pesticides a day, versus two per day when eating from the Clean Fifteen list.
The health benefits of a diet rich in fruits and vegetables outweigh the risks of pesticide exposure and EWG strongly recommends that everyone follow USDA’s recommendation to eat five servings of fruits and vegetables per day. EWG’s Shopper’s Guide makes it easy to meet that goal while reducing your exposure to pesticides.
EWG’s Shoppers Guide is available for fee as a PDF download or as an iPhone app at www.foodnews.org. For a small donation, consumers can also have a version of the guide sent to them that can be attached to reusable shopping bags.
EWG is a nonprofit research organization based in Washington, DC that uses the power of information to protect human health and the environment. http://www.ewg.org