Fruits & Pesticides


Eat Fruits Eat Pesticides 

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Peaches top the list of most pesticide-ridden fruits, with some combination of up to 53 pesticides found on all the peaches in the study…yikes. With their relatively thin skin, peeling and washing can only do so much, so this one tops the list of fruits to definitely buy organic whenever possible.



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An apple a day might keep the doctor away, but too many conventionally-grown apples might eventually send you to the doctor. Apples had 50 different pesticides found on them, so if you pick apples instead of gum to fight bad breath, pick organic apples.

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With 97.3 percent of the samples testing positive for pesticides, nectarines are third on the list of fruits with a high pesticide load. 85.3 percent of the samples of the fruit known by some as “peaches without the fuzz” had multiple pesticides on a single sample — the second-highest number, behind peaches.

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With 38 different pesticides found, strawberries check in as the fourth fruit to buy organic whenever possible. And, without a skin, there isn’t much between you and whatever has happened to accumulate on the berries.

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Cherries are the next fruit on the list of the 12 most contaminated fruits, that, when combined with commonly pesticide-laden vegetables, will expose a person to about 10 pesticides per day, on average.

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Imported grapes earned the spot as sixth-dirtiest fruit on the list; interestingly, grapes grown in the U.S. Also earn a spot, though further down the list.

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Pears are next on the list, based on the six methods that each piece of fruit was tested by: percent of the samples tested with detectable pesticides, and percent with two or more pesticides; average number of pesticides found on a sample, and average amount (level in parts per million) of all pesticides found, maximum number of pesticides found on a single sample, and number of pesticides found in total. Given all that, that pears are in the middle of the pack.

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Raspberries check in at number eight on the list. And what damage could a little pesticide on a little raspberry do? According to a 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.

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Grapes are back on the list, this time for those grown in the U.S. And, while grapes aren’t regularly peeled before they’re eaten, they should definitely still be washed, because washing does reduce levels of some pesticides. However, other pesticides are also taken up internally into the plant, are in the fruit, and cannot be washed off.

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Plums round out the top 10. Like the other stone fruits on the list, they’re tough to scrub, and aren’t really receptive to quick ‘n easy peeling, so going organic is your best bet for healthy, clean plums. And, while scientists from Israel have been able to genetically modify plums to deliver a huge payload of antioxidants, we still have to ask, is it worth the potential risk?

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Oranges go to eleven on the list. Part of the reason they’re further down is that they have a thick rind that is often discarded (or composted, though orange peels show surprising promise as feedstock for ethanol as well) rather than eaten, as with stone fruits, grapes, and other fruits with edible skins. Still, if you like to cook with zest of the rind and want to minimize your risk from one of the most-consumed fruits, stick with organic oranges.

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Rounding out the list are tangerines. Similar to an orange (and sometimes mistaken for them), the tangerine tends to be smaller, and many have thinner rinds than most oranges. That means a bit less real estate for pesticide-blocking.


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