Are the fruits and vegetables in your home making you sick? According to CNN, they could be if they’re on the new “Dirty Dozen” list. That’s a list of produce found to contain the highest levels of pesticides. As you know, pesticides are chemicals used by farmers to kill bugs, weeds, or bacteria on crops. At least half of the world’s farmers rely on these chemicals to stay in business. However, many studies have shown that long-term exposure to pesticides can raise your risk for health problems – including attention-deficit disorder, nerve damage, and cancer.
That’s where the new “Dirty Dozen” list comes in. It was compiled by a non-profit organization called the Environmental Working Group, which analyzed nearly 100,000 different crops from commercial farms across North America. Here are the 12 fruits and veggies they found to be the dirtiest: Apples, celery, peaches, strawberries, cherries, blueberries, nectarines, grapes, lettuce, sweet bell peppers, spinach, kale or collard greens, and potatoes.
Experts say these crops tend to be more dangerous because they have soft skin. That means pesticides can leech into them more easily, compared to thick-skinned crops - like corn, avocados, onions, and pineapples. In fact, a study found that produce on the “Dirty Dozen” list generally contains almost 50 different pesticides in a typical serving!
Amy Rosenthal is a spokesperson for the Environmental Working Group who says this new list isn’t meant to scare you away from buying produce. Instead, it’s meant to make you aware of just how common pesticides are these days. It’s also a good reminder of why it’s important to wash all produce before you eat it. Know this: Experts say you can reduce your exposure to pesticides by up to 80% if you always buy the organic version. Rosenthal says pesticides are designed to kill things! So, the fewer you eat, the better.