The Dirty Dozen

cold_weather_is_evil(9)April 29, 2014

This is largely taken from the web site at the link below. It has been edited to shorten the danged thing and to cut out some of the I-Told-You-So stuff.

The Environmental Working Group publishes its annual rating of conventional foods with the most and least pesticide residues to fill the void left by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, which has largely failed to tell Americans they have a right to know about the risks of pesticide exposure and ways they can reduce pesticides in their diets.

Some 65 percent of thousands of produce samples analyzed by the U.S. Department of Agriculture test positive for pesticide residues. Parents' concerns have been validated by the American Academy of Pediatrics, which in 2012 issued an important report that said that children have "unique susceptibilities to [pesticide residues'] potential toxicity." The pediatricians' organization cited research that linked pesticide exposures in early life and "pediatric cancers, decreased cognitive function, and behavioral problems."

Environmental Working Group'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. In particular: Every sample of imported nectarines and 99 percent of apple samples tested positive for at least one pesticide residue, the average potato had more pesticides by weight than any other food, a single grape sample contained 15 pesticides, single samples of celery, cherry tomatoes, imported snap peas and strawberries showed 13 different pesticides apiece. Leafy greens - kale and collard greens - and hot peppers were frequently contaminated with insecticides that are toxic to the human nervous system.

Their Clean Fifteen 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.

They analyzed pesticide residue testing data from the U.S. Department of Agriculture and Food and Drug Administration to come up with rankings for these popular fresh produce items. All foods listed below are from worst to best

1 Apples
2 Strawberries
3 Grapes
4 Celery
5 Peaches
6 Spinach
7 Sweet Bell Peppers
8 Nectarines - Imported
9 Cucumbers
10 Cherry Tomatoes
11 Snap Peas - Imported
12 Potatoes
13 Hot Peppers
14 Blueberries - Domestic
15 Lettuce
16 Kale / Collard Greens
17 Plums
18 Cherries
19 Nectarines - Domestic
20 Pears
21 Tangerines
22 Carrots
23 Blueberries - Imported
24 Green Beans
25 Winter Squash
26 Summer Squash
27 Raspberries
28 Broccoli
29 Snap Peas - Domestic
30 Green Onions
31 Oranges
32 Bananas
33 Tomatoes
34 Watermelon
35 Honeydew Melons
36 Mushrooms
37 Sweet Potatoes
38 Cauliflower
39 Cantaloupe
40 Grapefruit
41 Eggplant
42 Kiwi
43 Papayas
44 Mangoes
45 Asparagus
46 Onions
47 Sweet Peas - Frozen
48 Cabbage
49 Pineapples
50 Sweet Corn
51 Avocados

Here is a link that might be useful: EWG's Report page

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elisa_z5

Thanks for the info!

    Bookmark   April 29, 2014 at 10:05PM
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nc_crn

The big problem with these lists is they over-simplify things.

Residues mean little without context...type of residue means a lot within context of exposure.

Potatoes are #12 on the list, but I'd be a lot more concerned about the residues on that over about 8-10 others on the list ranked above it even though they have more or more types of residues.

Heck, plums (17), cherries (18), and pears (20) I would be more concerned about than a lot of things listed above them.

It would be nice if they weighted concern/danger of types of pesticides/herbicides in their rankings.

Beyond that...wash your produce...it should be standard practice no matter how it was grown unless you know where it came from and how much you can trust it's growing practice.

    Bookmark   April 29, 2014 at 10:37PM
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cold_weather_is_evil(9)

I used to live in a commercial apple orchard. If people only knew what they did. One piece of advice: never never never eat apple butter.

    Bookmark   April 29, 2014 at 10:50PM
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nc_crn

Apples easily would make my #1, too. I work in the chemical agriculture industry and I have had co-workers over the years spanning many different workplaces that wouldn't touch apples without cleaning the heck out of them or peeling them.

Thiabendazole (fungicide) and azinphos methyl (pesticide) are commonly used...especially thiabendazole which is pretty much an industry standard.

Thiabendazole on apples isn't really a huge concern, but it's the amount of thiabendazole used across so many produce+meat industries that's more of a concern along with apples being a place where you're going to get the biggest dose of it. Even though it's hard to get a major exposure to thiabendazole, it's easy to get it almost every turn you make in the food system for foods that are prone to fungal/mold issues and animals who are treated with thiabendazole for parasites. It's rather boring and mostly safe in common exposure...but there's a lot of it in our food system opening up some people to higher exposure even if it's not many people. It's one of those chemicals that needs a bit less cross-industry usage.

You're also going to find carbaryl used on too many (imo) apple crops even if it's use is in decline...and this is one you don't want to regularly ingest even if it's small amounts. There's safer options than carbaryl out there. It's used on a small portion of apple crop production (10-ish%, tops), but it should be much closer to 0%.

There's other chemicals used in orchards, but azinphos methyl and carbaryl are ones that I am not a fan of. Thiabendazole is a concern because of how much of it is in our cross-industry food supply and is a minor concern compared to azinphos methyl and carbaryl...but there's many that would like to see less of it used so much.

This post was edited by nc-crn on Wed, Apr 30, 14 at 1:27

    Bookmark   April 30, 2014 at 1:04AM
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pnbrown

Organic label is supposed to eliminate all or nearly all of these concerns, right? How much fraud is there in that regard, do we suppose?

    Bookmark   April 30, 2014 at 6:35AM
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curtis(5)

There is a lot of fraud in organic. Especially dairy, although we cut out dairy completely after discovering it was increasing my back pain 2-5 times in intensity. If you care to try this for yourself read labels and give it 10 days, then go back to generous amounts for a couple days and see it it matters to your aches and pains.

When buying organic look at the label for the country of origin. If US, Cananda, or western Europe (france, Britian, Holland, Germany etc) then assume 90% true. All other countries assume 100% false.

    Bookmark   April 30, 2014 at 10:26AM
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elisa_z5

"wash your produce"
I thought that the residues were inside the produce, because some of the sprays were done at early stages (as in flower, etc.), not just the ripe stage. Is that an incorrect assumption?

    Bookmark   April 30, 2014 at 11:03AM
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nc_crn

"I thought that the residues were inside the produce, because some of the sprays were done at early stages (as in flower, etc.), not just the ripe stage. Is that an incorrect assumption?"

Some are inside/systemic, a lot are on the surface, and some of the surface stuff can permeate the skin a little bit. It's hard-to-impossible to get 100% "clean" even if you wash because of this, but you'll take care of a good amount of it...especially the nastier stuff.

    Bookmark   April 30, 2014 at 4:56PM
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pnbrown

Oh I agree, anything organic from central/south america or asia is likely to be a scam. We do buy organic bananas nonetheless, just on hope, which hope is backed up by the fact that they generally taste much better.

    Bookmark   April 30, 2014 at 5:28PM
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Kimmsr(4a/5b-MI)

This is why it is important for the consumer, especially of foods, know the source of that food.

    Bookmark   May 1, 2014 at 6:27AM
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pnbrown

I guess I'd better buy a little organic banana-farm, then.

    Bookmark   May 1, 2014 at 8:16AM
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wayne_5 zone 6a Central Indiana

Pat, Maybe I shouldn't post this, but......How much better do those organic bananas taste? Guess I tend to be a bit of a sceptic..lol.

    Bookmark   May 1, 2014 at 9:00AM
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