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Pesticides Add a New Hurdle to 'Eating Clean'

May 18, 2018
Katie Visco

You could still eat fruits and vegetables! It's just that maybe you should consider organic options for some of them. Fruits and vegetables are nutritionally vital to our diets, but the pesticides involved with their growth can lead to fertility issues for both men and women. A recent study in the Journal of the American Medical Association links the top 14 pesticide-heavy produce with a drop in fertility. Women who reported eating 2.2 servings of these fruits and vegetables were 26 percent less likely to get pregnant than women who ate half as much.  

Where can I find typical pesticide concentrations for conventional fruits and veggies?

The Environmental Working Group just released the Shopper's Guide to Pesticides in Produce, which summarizes the results of tests done by the U.S. Department of Agriculture on commonly consumed fruits and vegetables. Highlights of the guide include the "Dirty Dozen" and the "Clean Fifteen."

What are the "Dirty Dozen" and the "Clean Fifteen"?

The "Dirty Dozen" are the top 12 fruits and vegetables ridden by pesticides. Each crop listed in the Dirty Dozen contained multiple pesticide residues on each sample.For example, nearly all strawberry samples had some trace of pesticides. The "Clean Fifteen" are exactly what they sound like--the top 15 fruits and vegetables with the least pesticides. For example, fewer than 1 percent of avocados were found to have any pesticide residues. Good news for those millennials and their avocado toast.  

What should we do?

The Shopper's Guide is meant to educate the public on the concentrations of pesticides in their common fruits and vegetables. You don't need to go full-on organic, but consider organic options for your favorite fruits and vegetables that have high pesticide ratings. Though pesticides are known to have negative effects on our health, complicated procedures and relationships between lawmakers and companies make ridding our foods of toxic substances to be an uphill battle. What we can do on an individual level is limit our exposure to these substances by making informed decisions on what to put in our bodies.

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