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Going organic

apples

Pesticide residues - which are the worst foods?

If we only make a couple of changes, which organic foods should we invest in?

  • Milk There is evidence that organic milk is healthier.  Scientists have found higher levels of vitamins, antioxidants and ‘healthy’ omega-3 fatty acids [Ref -Journal of the Science of Food and Agriculture].
  • Apples In a recent regular government Pesticides Residues Monitoring Report [2nd quarter report 2009, quarter ended June 2009, published December 2009] 70 samples of non-organic apples were tested for up to 234 pesticide residues.  More than 84% of the apples contained multiple residues
  • Pears In the same report, 39 samples of pears were tested.  30 (nearly 77%) of the samples contained residues of more than one pesticide (and some were found to have exceeded Maximum Recommended Levels).
  • Fine beans and speciality beans from Kenya, Thailand and Dominican Republic were found not just to contain pesticide residues, but to have exceeded the Maximum Recommended Levels.

Using Pesticides Residues Committee published data, Pesticide Action Network UK compiled a list of the worst foods for residues.  As well as apples, pears and beans, other fruits and vegetables listed in their top ten include:

  • Potatoes
  • Grapes
  • Strawberries
  • Tomatoes
  • Cucumber

So, the message is to keep on eating fruit and veg, but consider replacing at least the above items with organic choices.

Did you know?
A non-organic apple can be sprayed up to 16 times with 36 different chemicals (many of which cannot be washed off, not matter how hard you try). 

Is there anything else that can be done to avoid pesticide residues?

For non-organic foods, the following can help:

  • Wash all non-organic fruits and vegetables thoroughly - this won’t remove the pesticide residues, but it will help to reduce them.
  • Peel all non-organic fruit and veg and remove the outside leaves from leafy vegetables such as cabbage and lettuce.  
  • Try to choose organic when buying any foods on the ‘worst foods’ list.   (These include apples, pears, fine beans, potatoes, grapes, strawberries, tomatoes, cucumber)
  • Remove the fat from meat and remove the skin and fat from poultry - pesticides accumulate in fatty tissues.
  • Buy organic milk, butter and cheese for the same reason.