Avoiding Dozen Most Contaminated Crops Cuts Pesticide Risks in Half
Popular Produce Provides Equally Nutritious, Less Contaminated Alternatives
Washington, D.C. -- Consumers can reduce their health risks from
pesticides in food by half, and still eat a diet rich in fruits and
vegetables, simply by avoiding twelve produce items that are the most
consistently contaminated with pesticides. The twelve foods, identified in
A Shopper's Guide to Pesticides in Produce, are strawberries, bell peppers,
spinach, cherries, peaches, cantaloupe from Mexico, celery, apples,
apricots, green beans, grapes from Chile, and cucumbers.
The Guide features a list of equally nutritious substitute foods
that have consistently lower levels of pesticides contamination. Popular
alternatives to the most contaminated crops include, blueberries, bananas,
oranges and grapefruits (avoid the peel), broccoli, watermelon, potatoes
and sweet potatoes, green peas, romaine lettuce, and cantaloupe and grapes
grown in the United States (which dominate the shelves from May through
December), to name just a few.
"People know how to eat less cholesterol and reduce the fat in
their diets, but until now they had no easy way to eat fewer pesticides,"
said Richard Wiles, Vice President for Research at the Environmental
Working Group, and lead author of the study. "Now people can reduce their
health risks from pesticides in fruits and vegetables by half, and still
get all the health benefits that produce provides," said Wiles.
Individuals seeking even fewer pesticides in their fruits and
vegetables can buy organic produce, but organic produce is not always
available, and can cost more. "This simple guide makes it easy to pick
food with less pesticide risk when organic food is not readily available,"
said Kert Davies, analyst, at the Environmental Working Group.
The least contaminatedfruit or vegetable was avocadoes. Rounding
out the best 12 were, in order: corn, onions, sweet potatoes, cauliflower,
brussels sprouts, grapes (U.S.), bananas, plums, green onions, watermelon
A Shopper's Guide to Pesticides in Produce is based on an analysis
of 15,000 samples of 38 fruits and vegetables that were tested for
pesticides by the Food And Drug Administration during the years 1992 and
1993. Four produce items were analyzed for domestic versus import
contamination. Toxicity information is from the Environmental Protection
Agency and peer reviewed scientific literature.
The Guide was produced by the Environmental Working Group (EWG), a
non-profit research group in Washington, D.C. Related EWG studies include
Pesticides in Children's Food (1993), Washed Peeled Contaminated (1994),
Forbidden Fruit (1995), and Pesticides in Baby Food (1995). The Guide and
most other Environmental Working Group reports are available on the World
Wide Web at: <http://www.ewg.org>. A printed copy of the report is
available by sending a check or money order for $18 ($15 + $3 shipping) to
Environmental Working Group 1718 Connecticut Ave. NW, Suite 600,
Washington DC, 20009. We are a non-profit. Price covers the costs of
in-house publication. Sorry, no credit cards accepted.
Note: This report does not comment on the worker health issues or
environmental impacts of growing any of these crops. It is solely a tool
for consumers to use to minimize their pesticide ingestion. Consumers can
also send a message back to farmers that they want foods grown with fewer
pesticides. Activists can also use ths report to comment on the impacts of
pesticide dependent production practices.
Feel free to call with any questions and to recieve a free brochure on the
Kert Davies, analyst
ENVIRONMENTAL WORKING GROUP
1718 Connecticut Ave. Suite 600
Washington, D.C. 20009
And check the EWG web page at
202-667-6982 fax 202-232-2592