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Pesky Produce Pesticides

by Diane Lofshult on Jan 01, 2004

We all know that eating lots of fruits and veggies can reduce our risk of serious diseases. But what if that produce we buy is laden with dangerous pesticides?

According to the research organization Environmental Working Group (EWG), you can limit the amount of pesticides you consume by purchasing organic produce. When organic is not readily available, the EWG recommends sticking to fruits and vegetables that have consistently low pesticide levels. Using data from the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the Food and Drug Administration, the EWG recently published a list of the top 12 most and least contaminated fruits and vegetables, shown in alphabetical order:

Most Contaminated

  • apples
  • bell peppers
  • celery
  • cherries
  • imported grapes
  • nectarines
  • peaches
  • pears
  • potatoes
  • red raspberries
  • spinach
  • strawberries

Least Contaminated

  • asparagus
  • avocados
  • bananas
  • broccoli
  • cauliflower
  • corn (sweet)
  • kiwis
  • mangos
  • onions
  • papayas
  • pineapples
  • peas (sweet)

According to the EWG, these ratings are designed to help consumers reduce their pesticide intake, not eliminate particular types of produce from their diets. The EWG says that fruits and vegetables are essential to a healthy diet, but does recommend cutting back on pesticide intake in the same way you would reduce your fat or caloric intake.

IDEA Health Fitness Source, Volume 2005, Issue 1

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© 2004 by IDEA Health & Fitness Inc. All rights reserved. Reproduction without permission is strictly prohibited.

About the Author

Diane Lofshult

Diane Lofshult IDEA Author/Presenter

Diane Lofshult is an award-winning freelance author who specializes in nutrition and weight management topics. She is the founder of In Other Words, an editorial consulting firm based in Solana Beach, California. Reach her at