The Environmental Working Group is an organization dedicated to changing food industry standards and improving public health. In their 2022 Shopper's Guide to Pesticides in Produce, they note that 70% of non-organic fresh produce sold in the U.S. contains residues of potentially harmful pesticides. As fruits and vegetables are a major component of a healthy lifestyle, this information proves troublesome, to say the least.
Some produce held more reside than others. For example, glyphosate is one of the most-used pesticides globally and is found in high levels across many grains and beans.
Fortunately, the EWG produces two easy-to-digest (pun not intended) lists called "The Dirty Dozen," which contains the 12 most heavily contaminated produce, and the "Clean 15," which lists the 15 least-contaminated.
In today's article, we go over that list, and we present ways you can safely increase your fruit and vegetable intake with clean, organic supplements.
The Dirty Dozen for 2022
From the report, these are the 12 foods contaminated with more pesticides than other crops.
- Kale, collard, and mustard greens
- Bell and hot peppers
Key findings, according to the report:
- More than 90 percent of samples of strawberries, apples, cherries, spinach, nectarines, and grapes tested positive for residues of two or more pesticides.
- Kale, collard, and mustard greens, as well as hot peppers and bell peppers, had the most pesticides detected, 103 and 101 pesticides in total, respectively.
- A single sample of kale, collard, and mustard greens had up to 21 different pesticides.
- On average, spinach samples had 1.8 times as much pesticide residue by weight as any other crop tested.
- The pesticide most frequently detected on collards, mustard greens and kale is DCPA – sold under the brand name Dacthal – which is classified by the EPA as a possible human carcinogen and which was banned by the EU in 2009.
- Other problematic pesticides on greens include potentially neurotoxic neonicotinoids and pyrethroids.
The Clean 15
According to the report, these 15 foods were found to have the lowest amounts of pesticide residues.
- Sweet corn
- Sweet peas (frozen)
- Honeydew melon
- Sweet Potatoes
- Almost 70 percent of Clean Fifteen fruit and vegetable samples had no detectable pesticide residues.
- Avocados and sweet corn were the cleanest produce – less than 2 percent of samples showed any detectable pesticides.
- Just under 5 percent of Clean Fifteen fruit and vegetable samples had residues of two or more pesticides.
- The first six Clean Fifteen items tested positive for just three or fewer pesticides per sample.
Credit Source: EWG
Why Eating Clean Matters
Studies and clinical trials have shown that switching from conventionally grown to organically grown foods can dramatically reduce urinary pesticide concentrations. Studies looking at pesticide use have shown a relationship between exposure and the development of some cancers.
Essentially, there are ongoing concerns that exposure, even in small doses, could eventually lead to serious health problems. The best way to combat these dangers is by maintaining a diet rich in organic foods and produce that does not use herbicides or pesticides.
How to Eat Clean and Supplement Your Nutrition
The news is not all doom and gloom. Instead, by knowing which foods to consume more of and which to eat less, we can create clean nutrition plans for ourselves and our families.
Shop Local and Organic
One of the best things you can do to eat more clean is to shop at local supermarkets and look for organic produce. Some national chains like Whole Foods can also be a reliable source of organic foods, but most chain supermarkets contain produce grown on big farms that liberally spray their produce.
Visit Organic Farmer’s Markets
Another great option, besides the supermarket, is organic farmer’s markets. If you are fortunate to have one or more of these available in your area, visit regularly. You will be able to find foods free of pesticides, but you’ll also be supporting local business owners.
Grow Your Own Produce
One way to ensure that your food is not sprayed is by growing it yourself. Of course, not everyone has a parcel of land to plant on, but if you do, it’s a great option–and a lot of fun, too! Not all areas can grow all produce, so be sure and check your local zone guidelines and choose organic seeds and soils.
Buy During the Season
Every fruit and vegetable has a particular part of the year that it’s grown and harvested. Understanding when those seasons are can help you identify the best times to buy the produce. If you purchase them during the offseason, they could contain chemicals to keep them fresh longer or that enable them to grow under unnatural conditions. Also, when produce is in-season, it typically costs less at the store or market.
Supplement as Needed
The final tip for ensuring that your nutrition plan contains as many chemical-free fruits and vegetables as possible is to supplement your nutrition as needed. Products on our site are developed from organic and pesticide-free whole foods and offer a boost to your nutrition and health that you can’t always find at the store.
For example, our Green Power supplements contain four types of air-dried greens, including:
- Fermented organic barley grass
- Fermented organic oat grass
- Fermented organic kale
- Fermented organic chlorella
These ingredients combined promote pH and natural alkalinity of the body. They support gut health and detoxification. And, they are easily digestible.
Maintaining health through food and nutrition is a right that belongs to everyone. And fortunately, during certain times of the year or when sources of clean produce aren’t available to you, there are other options available to explore.
Next time you’re at the market, stock up on those clean and healthy foods and consider visiting our online store to see our full lineup of dietary supplement products.