Strawberries have a dirty secret, according to new report


Pesticides include a wide array of chemicals that kill unwanted insects, plants, molds and rodents.

Other members of the so-called "dirty dozen" include nectarines, apples, and grapes. Nearly all spinach samples (97 percent) contained pesticide residues, while 94 percent of nectarine samples contained at least two pesticides.

The report says close to 70% of all non-organic food contains some type of contamination.

The EWG guide is based on the U.S. Department of Agriculture's annual Pesticide Data Program report. The group noted that the produce samples are thoroughly washed and sometimes peeled before testing, but that, even after these preparations, pesticide residues were still detected on many items.

Strawberries top the "Dirty Dozen" list for pesticide contamination.

Roughly one-third of all the strawberry samples had at least 10 pesticides, according to the research.

Less than 1% of samples of avocados and sweet corn showed any detectable pesticides. Tomatoes, celery, potatoes and sweet bell peppers finish out the "dirty dozen". Organophospate insecticides have been found to cause subtle but lasting damages to children's brains and nervous systems, according to a 2011 study by the National Center for Biotechnology Information. Anyone who frequently eats hot peppers should buy organic, it says.

Children are of special concern as younger bodies have greater susceptibility to pesticides than adult bodies, the report emphasizes.

The Environmental Working Group (EWG), a nonprofit organization focused on human health and the environment, issues the "Dirty Dozen" report each year.

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While pesticides have been regulated in the USA since the 1990s, some studies have indicated that there are still harmful chemicals being used.

Rinsing produce under tap water for 30 seconds is an effective way to get rid of pesticide residues, according to the Connecticut Agricultural Experiment Station, CNN reports.

Many pesticides have been banned since 1996 when legislation was passed to require the EPA to study and regulate pesticides. And they did, mostly. "The fresh produce industry seeks to ensure a safe, efficient and timely supply chain, allowing consumers to experience fresh fruits and vegetables at the peak of their performance".

"Empowering consumers with knowledge is key to helping them make healthy choices for their diets and that of their family", Stenzel said.

EWG also released its Clean Fifteen list which features fruits and vegetables that are "least likely to contain pesticide residues".

Third on the list are pineapples followed by cabbage, onions, frozen sweet peas, papayas, asparagus, mangoes, eggplants, honeydews, kiwis, cantaloupes, cauliflower and broccoli.

A small amount of sweet corn, papaya and summer squash sold in the United States is produced from GMO seedstock. The group advises consumers to buy organic produce whenever it's available to avoid as many pesticide residues as possible.

Through its healthy eating reminder, MyPlate, the USDA recommends that half your plate be filled with fruits and vegetables. "In fact, to exceed the Environmental Protection Agency tolerances, a child would have to eat 154 apples every day".