What is a pesticide?
A pesticide is a mixture of chemical substances used on farms to destroy or prevent pests, diseases and weeds from affecting crops. According to the USDA, 45 percent of the world’s crops are lost to damage or spoilage, so many farmers count on pesticides.
If you’re eating non-organic celery today, you may be ingesting 67 pesticides with it, according to a new report from the Environmental Working Group.
The group, a nonprofit focused on public health, scoured nearly 100,000 produce pesticide reports from the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to determine what fruits and vegetables we eat have the highest, and lowest, amounts of chemical residue.
Don’t want to eat fruits coated with toxins? Neither do we! And neither does the Environmental Working Group, which thankfully tracks what’s actually in and on our food.
Some highlights from the report:
A single grape sample contained 15 pesticides.
The average potato had more pesticides by weight than any other food.
Single samples of celery, cherry tomatoes, imported snap peas and strawberries showed 13 different pesticides apiece.
When it comes to pesticides, fungicides, and other chemicals, all crops are by no means equal.
Here are the 18 nonorganic fruits and veggies Have More Pesticide
Pesticides cling to apple skin, and can be absorbed into the flesh beneath. Wash fruit thoroughly, and peel before eating.
The leaves and vines of tomato plants contain alkaloid poisons such as atropine that cause dizziness, headaches and upset tummies. There is also some in green tomatoes and one death has been attributed to it, but generally the amount of ‘tomatine’ in them is too small to cause any harm. Always refuse tea made from the leaves though; it is still something offered on occasion.
An average of 64 difficult-to-wash-away chemicals can be found on any given bunch of celery, and considering that celery is basically a water-uptake plant that draws liquids (and toxins) from the soil, do you really want to think about what might be running through your veins after you’ve eaten a stalk or two?
Sweet bell peppers
Residues of 15 pesticides were found on bell peppers, among them neurotoxic neonicotinoids, which harm bee colonies as well as people.
If you love peaches, go for canned instead of fresh. These luscious globes are right behind celery as far as toxin levels go.
Kale, Collards, and Other Leafy Greens
While the amount of pesticide detected on these greens was not as worrisome as on other produce, the types of pesticides detected were. According to tests by USDA, three insecticides banned from use on most crops—acephate, chlorpyrifos, and oxamyl—were found on kale, collards, and other greens (and on hot peppers)
Strawberries are the most chemical-intensive crop in California, and those grown in South America may be laden with even more, as restrictions aren’t as severe in developing countries. Some organic growers apparently joke that conventionally grown strawberries can be ground up and used as pesticides themselves, since they’re so contaminated.
Among the 86 pesticides found on cucumbers were neurotoxins, suspected hormone disruptors, and probable carcinogens. Of particular concern is carbendazim, a fungicide that’s considered a probable carcinogen. Carbendazim has been turning up in orange juice and many other food products, prompting FDA consumer health warnings.
These peachy cousins are just as coated with chemicals, and have even thinner skins to absorb them through.
Would you believe that a single grape tested positive for 15 pesticides? Perhaps the most serious is chlorpyrifos, an insecticide known to sicken farmworkers and others living or working close to fields. Immediate exposure to chlorpyrifos causes coughing, shortness of breath, headache, nausea, dizziness, and disorientation.
Peaches and Nectarines
If you’ve ever seen a backyard peach tree, you’ve probably seen peach leaf curl, brown rot, or one of the many other diseases and pests that afflict these trees. Hence the high number of pesticides and fungicides needed to get a high yield of stone fruit to market in unblemished condition. USDA data show that 96 percent of all peaches and 100 percent of imported nectarines test positive for pesticide residue.
Spinach is so prone to insect nibblings that conventional farmers have to douse it in (carcinogenic!) chemicals just to keep the bugs off. Guess what gets absorbed into each and every leaf?
Non-organic lettuce and kale are contaminated with more chemicals than you really want to think about. If you can’t grow your own, please buy organic instead.
Like apples, these fruits are sprayed constantly to get rid of mites, aphids, moth eggs, and countless other critters.
Most legumes (beans and lentils) contain a chemical called phytohaemagglutinin, though it’s most concentrated in red and white kidney beans, followed by fava beans. Lima beans also contain a toxin known as limarin, which can only be neutralized if the beans are cooked thoroughly for about 15 minutes.
Potatoes are perfectly safe unless they have turned green on the skins or are sprouting. They contain solanine, which develops with exposure to light – one reason to always keep potatoes in a cool, dark place. If you eat too much, you will experience severe digestive problems or even death.
You probably won’t die from it if you eat the leaf, but it contains oxalic acid salts that can cause kidney problems, coma and convulsions. However, the stalks are not a problem and even with the leaves, you would need to eat about 5 lbs before you reached a fatal dose. Just don’t think they look like great greens and why let them go to waste – you will be very ill.
The mushies that you find at the supermarket will be harmless to anyone except those with an allergy to fungi, but some people are fond of foraging for wild mushrooms in forests and such. Most mushroom-related deaths occur when people eat the death cap (Amanita phalloides) or destroying angel (Amanita bisporigera) mushrooms by accident. If you’re not an absolute expert when it comes to wild mushroom identification, err on the side of caution and don’t put anything in your mouth.
Can pesticides be washed away?
Not necessarily. The pesticide tests mentioned above were conducted after the food had been power-washed by the USDA. Also, although some pesticides are found on the surface of foods, other pesticides may be taken up through the roots and into the plant and cannot be removed.
All fresh produce, whether it’s grown with or without pesticides, should be washed with water to remove dirt and potentially harmful bacteria. And health experts agree that when it comes to the Dirty Dozen list, choose organic if it’s available.
http://www.integrativecanceranswers.com eating non-organic celery today, you may be ingesting 67 pesticides
http://www.lifehack.org Residues of 15 pesticides were found on bell peppers, among them neurotoxic neonicotinoids
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