Have a Plant: Fruits & Veggies for Better Health

About The Buzz: Pesticide Residue On Some Fruits And Vegetables Is So High You Should Not Eat Them?

TheBUZZ Pesticide residue on some fruits and vegetables is so high you should not eat them?

WHAT THEY’RE SAYING
It’s claimed the level of pesticide residue is so high on … and in … certain fruits and vegetables that eating them should be avoided, or only the organically-grown version should be eaten. These fruits and vegetables have been cataloged on a so-called Dirty Dozen list in the media.

WHAT WE KNOW

To create this year’s Dirty Dozen list, the authors looked through nearly 100,000 produce pesticide reports from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to determine which fruits and vegetables have the highest and the lowest amounts of chemical residue. Nearly all the studies tested produce in the form that most would be eaten; bananas were peeled before testing, while apples were simply washed.

Although the group that produces the Dirty Dozen list (Environmental Working Group) takes the stance that pesticides are harmful, government groups like the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the FDA have agreed on an amount that’s "generally regarded as safe." The amount of pesticides detected on the so-called Dirty Dozen fruits and vegetables fall within those limits.

Fruits and vegetables are an important requirement in healthy diets for many reasons. Eating a variety of fruits and vegetables daily provides needed vitamins, minerals, fiber and other nutrients. Eating more fruits and vegetables may help reduce the risk of obesity and many diseases, including heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes, and some cancers. Everyone can benefit from eating more fruits and vegetables.

Even the authors of the Dirty Dozen list do NOT recommend or advise people to lower their consumption of fruits and vegetables.

HOW DO WE KNOW THIS?

Pesticides are extensively reviewed by various government regulatory agencies before being approved for use. Many factors are examined by means of extensive laboratory testing by government pesticide regulators, and all pesticides that are approved for use within this country are guaranteed safe for the environment and human consumption. The EPA, FDA and USDA work together to set limits on how much pesticide can be used on farms and how much is safe to remain on the produce once it hits supermarket shelves.

A 2008 USDA report on pesticide residues found that 98% of fruit and vegetable samples had no detectable residue levels at all. Of those that were detectable, the report states “the vast majority was well below established tolerances,” which are determined by the EPA as safe levels. This nation’s food supply continues to be among the safest in the world.

OUR ADVICE

Fruits and vegetables are so important to good health that everyone needs to be thinking of ways to eat MORE of them. Don’t stop eating nutritious fruits and vegetables over pesticide concerns.

As the first step of preparation, fresh produce should be washed under running water to remove dirt, potentially harmful bacteria, and possible pesticide residue. You should also wash the outside of items like melons or citrus where a knife would come in contact with both the outside and inside of the fruit. For some fruits and vegetables, the outer peel (where any pesticide would be applied) can be removed. However by peeling, you’ll miss out on much of the healthy fiber and extra nutrition found in the peels of some fruits and vegetables.

There’s also the option of buying organically-farmed fruits and vegetables. These items tend to cost more because it is more expensive to produce marketable quantities of them without using chemical pest controls.

Interactive calculator lets you figure the number of servings of fruits & veggies you could eat in a day and still see no effect from pesticide residue: safefruitsandveggies.com

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