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A SHOPPER'S GUIDE TO
PESTICIDES IN PRODUCE

An exhaustive review of Federal government data shows that you can reduce by half your healthrisks from pesticides in fruits and vegetables and still eat a diet rich in all the nutrients and benefitsthey supply. How? Buy organic produce whenever possible. A second option is to minimizeconsumption of items that consistently carry the largest quantity and most toxic pesticides.

We analyzed the results of Food and Drug Administration pesticide tests of 15,000 food samplesperformed in 1992 and 1993. We then ranked 42 fruits and vegetables according to sevendifferent measures of pesticide contamination, such as the percent of the crop with detectableresidues and the potency of the average amount of cancer causing pesticides found each year onthat crop. The results of this study were incorporated into a report, A Shopper's Guide toPesticides in Produce, to help consumers minimize their exposure to pesticides in produce andmaximize the nutritional benefits of the fruits and vegetables they eat.

What we found

More than half of the health risks from pesticides in these 42 crops are concentrated in twelvefruits and vegetables that are consistently contaminated with the highest levels of the most toxicpesticides. Avoiding these will reduce pesticide health risks by half, and still provide a diet rich infruits and vegetables with all the nutritional and health benefits they provide. (see table below)

You decide

The Shopper's Guide to Pesticides in Produce does not tell people what to eat. Instead, theGuide provides easily understood ranking of fruits and vegetables, from highest to lowest toxiccontamination. It also provides a simple selection of nutritious alternative fruits and vegetables withconsistently lower pesticide risks.

For example, the Guide does not recommend that people never eat strawberries. The Guide doestell consumers, however, that strawberries have the highest combined score for pesticidecontamination and toxicity of all fruits and vegetables examined, and that there are many equally ormore nutritious alternatives containing fewer pesticides. Similarly the Guide does not tell people toeat avocados, but it clearly reveals that avocados have the lowest levels of the fewest number ofpesticides of all 42 crops examined.

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Written by: Richard Wiles, Kert Davies and Susan Elderkin, Excerpted with permission from the San Diego Earth Times


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