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The 20 Fruits and Vegetables With the Most Pesticides, the 20 With the Least ... and What to Do About It

Summer is the perfect time to indulge in fresh, seasonal fruits and vegetables, but lurking on the skins (and in the fruit itself) could be some potentially toxic chemicals: pesticides.

produce pesticides

Pesticides are not just on the skins of produce, they get absorbed into the flesh of fruits and vegetables as well.

Animal and human studies on individual pesticides have shown that they contribute to an alarming number of health problems like:

  • Cancer

  • Fertility problems

  • Brain tumors

  • Childhood leukemia

  • Non-Hodgkin's lymphoma

  • Birth defects

  • Irritation to skin and eyes

  • Hormone or endocrine system problems

  • Nervous system damage

Those especially at risk from pesticides are children, whose bodies are still developing, along with pregnant women, whose unborn children are extremely susceptible to damage from these toxic chemicals.

Some argue that the amount of pesticides on produce is minimal, and therefore not enough to influence health, however an increasing number of experts believe that exposure to even small amounts of pesticides over a long period of time can have a negative impact on your health.

For instance, a new study in the journal Occupational and Environmental Medicine found that people who had been exposed to even low levels of pesticides were found to be 1.13 times as likely to have Parkinson's disease as those who had never been exposed.

By eating some of the most-contaminated fruits and vegetables, you and your children are exposed to about 15 different pesticides a day, according to the Environmental Working Group (EWG), a not-for-profit environmental research organization. No one knows for sure what impacts these chemicals that are, by their very nature, designed to kill will have on your health.

Fortunately, by avoiding the most-contaminated produce out there, and concentrating on the least contaminated instead, you can reduce your exposure to pesticides by almost 90 percent, EWG says.

How to Keep Your Food Pesticide Exposure to a Minimum

Wash Dem Veggies!

Safely remove toxic pesticides, dirt, mold and other residues from your family's produce with Vermont Soap Organics' Wash dem Veggies. This unique fruit and vegetable wash:

  • Makes foods taste better
  • All Organic-Soap based
  • All-natural ingredients
  • Healthy, non-toxic alternative
  • Absolutely NO artificial colors, fragrances and preservatives
  • Available in 16oz or Economical Gallon Size
  • No Animal Testing
  • No Animal Products or By-Products

Find out More and Order Wash Dem Veggies Fruit and Vegetable Wash Now!

Contrary to popular belief, simply washing with water and peeling fruit and vegetables is not enough to protect yourself and your family from pesticides. It will reduce the levels somewhat, but it will not eliminate them. In fact, the fruit and vegetable rankings below have taken washing and typical preparation into account (such as peeling of bananas) before being tested for pesticides.

Meanwhile, you really don't want to peel fruits and veggies like apples and potatoes because the skins contain a lot of the nutrients and antioxidants.

An excellent alternative that will help to remove pesticides from your produce better than water alone is Vermont Soap Organics' Wash dem Veggies . This fruit and veggie wash naturally eliminates the pesticides, dirt, mold and other residues found in so many of today's fruits and vegetables.

The 20 Fruits and Veggies With the MOST Pesticides

These are the ones that you should always buy organic, if possible. If you do buy conventional versions of the following produce, please be sure to wash them thoroughly with Wash dem Veggies (organic produce, of course, should also be washed just in case). These are ranked in order by EWG, with the worst of the bunch, peaches, at #1.

produce pesticides

Peaches tend to have the most pesticides of any fruit or vegetable ... so if possible buy these organic.

  1. Peaches
  2. Apples
  3. Sweet Bell Peppers
  4. Celery
  5. Nectarines
  6. Strawberries
  7. Cherries
  8. Pears
  9. Grapes (Imported)
  10. Spinach
  11. Lettuce
  12. Potatoes
  13. Carrots
  14. Green Beans
  15. Hot Peppers
  16. Cucumbers
  17. Raspberries
  18. Plums
  19. Grapes (Domestic)
  20. Oranges

The 20 Fruits and Veggies With the LEAST Amount of Pesticides

According to EWG, the following produce has the lowest pesticide load, ranked in order with the produce with the absolute lowest pesticides first.

  1. Onion
  2. Avocado
  3. Sweet corn (Frozen)
  4. Pineapples
  5. Mango
  6. Asparagus
  7. Sweet peas (Frozen)
  8. Kiwi
  9. Bananas
  10. Cabbage
  11. Broccoli
  12. Papaya
  13. Blueberries
  14. Cauliflower
  15. Winter Squash
  16. Watermelon
  17. Sweet potatoes
  18. Tomatoes
  19. Honeydew melon
  20. Cantaloupe

Recommended Reading

Organophosphates: What You Don't Know Can Indeed Hurt You

The Danger of Household Insecticides Confirmed in Recent Study: What You Can Do Instead


Occupational and Environmental Medicine March 1, 2007

Environmental Working Group: Food News

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