Shopping for Safer Fruits and Vegetables

Topics: Wellness and Health

The Environmental Working Group’s (EWG) 2017 Shopper’s Guide to Pesticides in Produce is now available. This guide is based on the results of the USDA and the FDA’s testing of pesticide residue on over 32,000 conventionally grown produce samples. As EWG notes, these samples were taken after produce was prepped to be eaten–meaning it had been washed and in some cases peeled.

The Executive Summary offers some enlightening tidbits of information, such as the fact that avocado and sweet corn samples were found to be the “cleanest,” with only one percent having any detectable pesticides. You can find the Summary here.

For use in your weekly shopping, I recommend carrying a copy of both the Clean Fifteen and the Dirty Dozen Plus; from the former, conventional produce is typically OK, while from the latter it’s best to consider buying organic. Purchasing produce according to these lists will help minimize your overall pesticide exposure.

In this, as with all well-intentioned endeavors, it’s important to remember not to let perfection be the enemy of good (hat tip: Voltaire). That is, don’t feel handcuffed by theses lists, but instead do your best to adhere to them. You can start by incorporating selective recommendations into your shopping habits. For example, since strawberries and spinach landed at the top of the Dirty Dozen Plus, make sure to always buy these organic. Start there and then work in additional adjustments as you can.