Wednesday, June 13, 2007

The 20 Fruits and Veggies With the MOST Pesticides

You should always buy organic, if possible.

If you do buy conventional versions of the following produce, please be sure to wash them thoroughly with something like Vermont Soap Organics' Wash dem Veggies, which removes skin-fast elements, naturally eliminating the pesticides, dirt, mold and other residues or from transported and handling accumulation (organic produce, of course, should also be washed just in case). These are ranked in order by the Environmental Working Group (EWG) a not-for-profit environmental research organization. By eating some of the most-contaminated fruits and vegetables, you and your children are exposed to about 15 different pesticides a day, according to the EWG.

Peaches tend to have the most pesticides of any fruit or vegetable. I can verify they are indeed heavily laced, as I was an actual fruit-picker for a couple of summers, in Colorado, just out of college, and loving the awesome Rockies, in this case, the western slopes, around Paonia, Palisades, and aptly named Fruitland. The orchards I picked were only marginallly treated, we were all assured, by the aging owner, Lindy Grannet, who still believed good fruit didn't need the chemical fertilizers for sustained growth. Not so the neighbors' fields, however, as the picking crew at every break time would have to jump into the shallow and cold Colorado River water that was adjacent to the verdant and irrigated orchards, to remove the peach fuzz, and the sticky and sickly chems that were all too easily applied.

I recall my great-uncle Taylor, who had a vast commercial peach orchard just north of Gettysburg. As a kid, it was the greatest thrill to run through the orchard rows, climbing the trees to fresh pick the ripest and sweetest fruit. The fondest memory, however, was at my grandmother's home, just blocks from where I grew up in Mechanicsburg, Pennsylvania, where planted in the middle of her green lawn, and near a towering pine tree, was the most suculent apricot tree imaginable. Chasing the hornets or wasps away from the dropped fruit was an exercise at avoiding being stung, but like a rose, worth a bit of blood if need be, to savor the prize. Even today, I can taste them. And the "store-bought" fruit just can't measure up at all. How could it?

Buying organic in many towns in near impossible, although even Wal-Mart (a coroporation I just cannot bring myself to enter) is now offering organics. The local Key West Fausto's, Publix, and Albertson stores have varying yet basic selection, and what I find to always be disappointing, but at least there is something. The Waterfront Market has perhaps the best all around organics. Maybe soon to a market near you?

The Top 20 with the MOST Pesticides
1. Peaches
2. Apples
3. Sweet Bell Peppers
4. Celery
5. Nectarines
6. Strawberries
7. Cherries
8. Pears
9. Grapes (Imported)
10. Spinach
11. Lettuce
12. Potatoes
13. Carrots
14. Green Beans
15. Hot Peppers
16. Cucumbers
17. Raspberries
18. Plums
19. Grapes (Domestic)
20. Oranges

The 20 Fruits and Veggies With the LEAST Amount of Pesticides
According to EWG, the following produce has the lowest pesticide load, ranked in order with the produce with the absolute lowest pesticides first.
1. Onion (I would have suspected onions to be high because of being a root crop, and concentrated. But it grows easily without much to mess with it, sparing it from the chemicals).
Avocado (Florida grown and readily available, less fat than the California variety)
3. Sweet corn (Frozen)
4. Pineapples (A crop once grown through the Florida Keys, now limited to foreign countres. I'm also surprised this is highly ranked, as I've seen the vast pineapple farms in Hawaii, and the environmental damage from the processing plants, at least. Seems tropical climate fruits don't need much to help them grow, although mono-cropping proves harmful to the overall ecology).
5. Mango (photo, r. In Florida, and Key West especially, these are plentiful, backyard treasures, not needing any help to grow. Even the imported types, from Mexico and Haiti or elsewhere, need little assistance to grow and are almost always naturally, if not explicitly organically cultivated).
6. Asparagus
7. Sweet peas (Frozen)
8. Kiwi
9. Bananas (Another locally grown fruit, several varieties found in many backyards and easy to reach!)
10. Cabbage

12. Papaya (Yet another local favorite, almost a nuissance fruit, and barely requiring one do anything except smell the seductive blossoms and pick when ripe).
13. Blueberries (possibly the easiest fruit in the world to pick, just need the right acidic soil)
14. Cauliflower
15. Winter Squash
16. Watermelon
17. Sweet potatoes
18. Tomatoes (can be readily grown in containers, or let seeds fall to ground and they will resprout like weeds).
19. Honeydew melon
20. Cantaloupe