The Dirty Dozen of Food – Chemicals on Your Produce

December 6, 2009 at 5:07 am 2 comments

More than a year ago, Consumer Reports had an article recommending a dozen foods that we should always buy organic. Here they are!

Peaches: Rating of 100. A no-brainer when you think about the soft, fuzzy, but porus skin a peach has. I am not surprised peaches were the worst. Anything sprayed on a peach is going to be there when you eat it, no matter how well you wash it. Definitely organic only!  The FDA also tests for the following which, I believe, are not approved for use on peaches. Dinocap, Formetanate hydrochloride.

Apples: Rating of 89. The top 50 chemicals applied to apples are listed here. One batch of test performed on apples by the FDA detected 36 chemicals, close to 50% being neuro-toxins. The FDA also tests for the following which, I believe, are not aproved for use on apples. Prothiofos, Terbuthylazine, Dinocap, Formetanate hydrochloride, Propargite, Thiabendazole.

Bell Peppers: Rating = 86. More than 39 different pesticides have been found on bell peppers. On average, when tested, 68% of pepper samples contain measurable amounts of pesticides. In addition, fungicides and chemical ripening agents are found on some pepper samples.

Celery: Rating = 85.. One study found pesticide residues on 94% of the celery tested.

Nectarines: Rating = 84.. Tested for unapproved use: Formetanate hydrochloride. One study found pesticide residue on 97% of the nectarines tested.

Strawberries: Rating = 82. Tested for, but unapproved use: Benomyl, Formetanate hydrochloride. I am surprised to see strawberries are not at the top of the list. I leaned that strawberries are the most heavily treated crop in the U.S. covered with an average of 300 pounds of chemicals per acre. The average treatment rate for all crops is 25 pounds per acre. Strawberries must clean up well to get down to the 4th place on this list.

Cherries: Rating = 75. Cherries grown in the U.S. are have three times more pesticide residue than imported cherries.

Pears: Rating = 65.. 4% of domestic and 10% or imported pears exceeded FDA approved levels of chemical contamination.

Grapes (imported): Rating = 65. Atrazine, Dinocap, Simazine. I learned years ago that grapes were often had high levels of fungicides and pesticides on them. Although chemicals were found on 86% of the grapes tested, they are only 7th on this list. Domestic grapes were 19th with a rating of 43.

Spinach: Rating = 60.. Although 8th on list, one study conducted by the FDA found spinach to be one of the most commonly tainted crops. Some of the pesticides used on spinach are the most powerful toxins available. My guess is that this is because a common pest on spinach is the leaf miner. This fly lays its eggs on the underside of the spinach leaf. When the eggs hatch, the larvae tunnel all around through the leaf, developing into quite juicy little worms. In my garden, once the leaf miner season starts, I check each spinach leaf I pick before it goes into my salad. Obviously commercial growers can’t do that, hence the heavy pesticide use. Anyone know how the organic commercial farmers grow spinach?

Lettuce: Rating = 59. This one stumps me. I have grown lettuce for over 30 years and have never witnessed a problem with bugs or disease. Even the leaf miner that attacks my spinach does not bother my lettuce. I will really have to find out what the conventional growers are going after with their use of chemicals on lettuce.

Potatoes: Rating = 58. Potato growers have reduced their use of pesticides a bit in recent years, but spraying for pests like the potato tuber moth is still common. Ironically, one of the things potatoes growers are looking for in their battle against pests in is the use of genetically modified seed potatoes. Oh, boy…………….

Carrots, green beans, cucumbers, raspberries, domestic grapes, and oranges all rated above 40 for chemical residue.

Onions and avocados were the best, both rated 1.


Entry filed under: Uncategorized.

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2 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Stacie Weaver  |  February 4, 2010 at 9:30 pm

    Love your website! Do you happen to know, when they talk about oranges being rated over 40, is that the skin or the actual fruit? I’ve been under the impression that anything with a thick skin you peel – citrus & most tropicals – are generally safe because any residue is mostly on the skin and doesn’t get to the fruit. Am I wrong? Thanks!!

    • 2. veganprincess  |  February 20, 2010 at 5:49 pm

      Yes Stacy you are right. Oranges that are not organic are safe but don’t use the skin if you need zest.


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