FEARS OF PESTICIDES IN PRODUCE MAY KEEP PEOPLE FROM EATING RECOMMENDED SERVINGS OF FRUITS AND VEGETABLES
This post was originally written during my 2 1/2 year tenure as a blogger for Health Goes Strong. This site was deactivated on July 1, 2013, but you can read the post here.
Am I the only one who found it odd that the 2012 report on Pesticides in Produce™ was released this week, right in the middle of Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Month? Stranger still, the report arrived just one day before the start of summer when many people across the country look forward to shopping at their local farm markets.
Talk about taking the spin out of your salad…
Why All the Fuss About Produce?
I do my best to encourage clients and readers to fill up on fruits and vegetables every day of the year, not just in June. The Dietary Guidelines recommend from 5 to 10 servings a day for those with caloric intakes between 1200 and 2400. Yet a report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found less than a third of Americans consume even the minimum of five servings a day.
The reasons people don’t reach those goals are as varied as the salad dressings lining their refrigerator doors. Now we have to contend with the latest release of the Dirty Dozen™ in the produce aisles. That’s a list of the 12 fruits and vegetables with the highest levels of pesticide residues published by the Environmental Working Group (EWG).
As a consolation prize, they also identify a list of the 15 fruits and vegetables with the lowest pesticide residues, known as the Clean 15™.
What’s Wrong With the Pesticides in Produce™ Report?
I have two big issues with these lists. First, they undermine the more important objective of getting Americans to eat more fruits and vegetables. There is no single dietary change that can produce more health benefits than reaching that goal. And while the report does encourage people to keep eating produce, that message is lost in the sensationalized coverage of the dangers of the Dirty Dozen™.
My second issue with those lists is that they use measurements of pesticide residue as a sign of a problem without providing any evidence that they pose a risk to our health. Sure, it sounds alarming, but what would be the quality, quantity, and cost of our produce if no pesticides were used?
If you think the answer lies in buying only organically grown produce, you’re in for a surprise. They are not 100% pesticide free, either.
So what can you do? Here’s my check list to help you with your produce purchases.
Getting the Best Value From the Fruits and Vegetables You Buy
[ ] Buy produce in all forms: fresh, frozen, canned, dried and juice
[ ] Change the variety of the fresh produce you buy with the seasons
[ ] Wash everything you buy, even things with a skin or peel you discard
[ ] Limit the use of imported produce since pesticide regulations are different outside the US
[ ] Use organically grown if you are juicing large amounts for daily consumption
What would make it easier for you to eat 5 or more servings of produce each day?