Pesticides: fruits and vegetables that contain the highest levels

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A massive proportion of fruits and vegetables we consume on a daily basis happens to be contaminated with pesticides: according to recent studies, almost half of all fresh produce is affected by increasingly heavy use of pesticides. So, what to do here?

In all kinds of intensive agriculture pesticides have been used massively for over half a century. Hence, we find pesticide residues everywhere and especially in our food: half of the fruits and vegetables produced by intensive farming contain these corrosive ingredients, although some actually absorb more than others.

The American agency Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service has analyzed the most common fruits and vegetables and identified a few fruits and vegetables that have the highest content of pesticides and chemical fertilizers.

Here is the “blacklist” of the fruits and vegetables, which are most exposed to chemicals products when they are grown on an industrial scale.

Pesticides in food: the most affected fruits and vegetables

  • Apple: more than 40 different pesticides were detected on apples, because this fruit is prone to fungi and insects;  they are also present in apple juice and applesauce. Since pesticides are deposited almost completely on the skin, a consumer has to remove it, although this means removing the most nutritious part of the fruit. If you cannot find “organic” apples, we advise you to go for watermelons, bananas and / or mandarins.
  • Celery: this is a special case because celery does not fall into the three main categories specified by the agency: fruit trees , berries and greens. However, the USDA test found more than 60 different pesticides in the vegetable. Just like apples, there are alternatives : broccoli, radishes and onions.
  • Strawberry: like in celery, there are more than 60 different pesticides, a little less in frozen strawberries. Alternative “organic” fruits to strawberry can be kiwis and pineapples.
  • Peach: you must differentiate between the “fresh” ones and the packaged ones. More than 60 pesticides were found in fresh peaches and almost the same amount in those in  packages; but much less in canned peaches. Alternative “safe” fruits are watermelon, tangerines, oranges and grapefruits.
  • Spinach: hated by children, when it comes to residual pesticide spinach topped the category of “green leaves”, with almost 50 different pesticides. Much less, however, in those sold in cans.
  • Apricots: 33 types of pesticides were found in apricot. If you cannot find organic apricots near your home, you can choose pineapple, papaya or mango as an alternative.
  • Grapes: imported grapes can have more than 30 pesticides. Raisin also contains a large number of pesticides.
  • Pepper: sweet peppers, in all their variety of colors, contain almost 50 different pesticides.

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  • Potato: potatoes contain more than 35 pesticides. Sweet potatoes make a delicious alternative with less residual pesticide.
  • Blueberry: 50 pesticides have been found on blueberry, while frozen ones are less contaminated. Unfortunately, nutritional alternative to blueberries are cherries, which although not part of the list, are often contaminated with pesticides. If you eat blueberry for breakfast, a harmless alternative is bananas.
  • Lettuce: more than 50 pesticides were found in lettuce. If you can’t get organic lettuce, you can choose asparagus.
  • Cabbage: even if cabbage is  known as a  more resistant plant to pests and diseases, in recent years, high levels of pesticide residues have been found in this vegetable. In its place, you can choose asparagus and broccoli. Dandelion is also a nutritious alternative.
pesticides in food

Which Fruits and Vegetables Contain the Most Pesticides?

A further list of products which, although not part of this list, contain a large number of pesticides, includes: beef, chicken legs, pork fat, milk, coffee (grown in countries that allow the use of pesticides), wine (due to the presence of insecticides in grapes;  unsurprisingly, there is an increased international market selection of organic wines) and chocolate.

What we should do:

Easy! The first precaution is to carefully wash fruits and vegetables. But beware; this is not enough to remove all traces of chemicals. Ideally, as we said, you should peel the skins but antioxidants and vitamins would go lost.

For efficiency, you can add baking soda to your rinsing water and clean the skin with a brush.

At the end of the day, the best method remains to focus on their organic equivalent!

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