Posted by Claudia Grazioso on September 12, 2011
I was pretty up on apples: They’re convenient, travel well, fill an empty tummy, head off the low blood sugar temper tantrums and they were one of the few fruits that experts said you didn’t need to buy organically. “Were” is the key word in that sentence. A few days ago, I was hanging out with a friend who brought me up to speed. Apparently some things have changed since the last time I checked the list of which fruits have the most pesticides in them. A couple of years ago, apples were pretty clean when it came to chemicals. But today, the winner of the Most Pesticide Heavy Fruit Award goes to… apples!
I was surprised — and alarmed — to learn that I had been feeding my kids a steady helping of pesticides and fungicides. And I was confused over how apples had gotten so bad for you. An analyst for the Environmental Working Group theorizes that more chemicals are being used on apples these days because growers want to prolong the shelf life of fruit. To bring myself up to speed, I checked out the EWG’s list of “clean” and “dirty” fruit.
First the bad news: Topping the list of the worst produce in terms of chemicals are the kid-friendly snacks of apples, celery and strawberries. Also making the list are peaches (a low blow), spinach (the kids won’t miss that too much), imported nectarines, imported grapes, bell peppers, domestic blueberries, lettuce and kale. I admit we have bought most of those fruits this summer, but I thought that by using a natural produce spray wash that I had gotten at a health food store, I was at least diminishing the amount of chemicals my kids were consuming along with their favorite summer fruits. Wrong again. According to researchers, those sprays are pretty useless because the pesticide and fungicide chemicals are absorbed by the whole fruit. They are not just on the skin, as some optimists (like me) had theorized. Spritzing and peeling, in other words, don’t save you.
Now the good news: There are a whole bunch of yummy things on the “clean” list. Kid faves like pineapple, mangoes and avocados are all practically free of any trace pesticides. And mom faves like cabbage, asparagus, sweet potato, kiwi, eggplant and peas also get a thumbs up. And if you have been eating the dirty produce, the good news is that if you start getting your five servings of fruits and veggies from the clean list, you can reduce the amount of pesticides in your body — and your kids’ bodies — by about 92 percent.
The pesticides commonly used today are really very toxic. They have been linked to cancer, they disrupt hormones and even are believed to cause brain damage in children. Feed your kids from the clean list, and if you are pregnant, give your baby the best start and swap out those apples and celery for pineapple and avocado!