A hidden health threat from the last source you’d expect

As you know, one of my primary missions in life is to set the record straight about what’s truly healthy–and what isn’t. Because, unfortunately, it’s not all that easy to tell these days. Even things that should be good for you–like vegetables and fruits–can pose some hidden risks. And I don’t mean their sugar and starch content (though those are certainly aspects to be aware of). No, today I want to focus on a different danger. One you’re exposed to every time you set foot in the produce section of your local supermarket…Pesticides.

In June, The U.S. Environmental Working Group (EWG) released the most recent “Dirty Dozen” list of pesticide-contaminated produce. But this year there were so many entries they couldn’t limit it to just 12. Or even a “baker’s dozen.” No, this time, they had to include 14 items. Which also prompted them to change the name of the list to “Dirty Dozen Plus.”

To come up with their list, the EWG analyzed 10 years’ worth of pesticide-residue test data collected by the FDA and USDA.

The produce items most likely to test positive for pesticides were apples, celery, bell peppers, peaches, strawberries, imported nectarines, grapes, spinach, lettuce, other leafy greens (kale, collard greens, etc.), cucumbers, green beans, domestic blueberries, and potatoes.

Here are some particularly disturbing details:

  • Blueberries tested positive for 42 different pesticides
  • 78 different pesticides were found on lettuce samples
  • Testing on grapes turned up 64 different chemicals

How does a food as small as a blueberry or a grape have that many chemicals on it?

Overall, 68 percent of food samples had detectable pesticide residues. And keep in mind, the FDA and USDA washed and/or peeled the samples prior to testing them. Just like you would at home. Which means most people are eating these potentially dangerous chemicals on a daily basis.

Is there any wonder we are a nation of sick people?

But get this: Bryan Silbermann, President and CEO of Produce Marketing Association (PMA), issued the following statement in response to the release of the Dirty Dozen list: “The U.S. government and international health officials agree that the nutritional benefits of eating fruits and vegetables by far outweigh any risk posed by low levels of pesticide residues.”

Oh, really? Show me the studies!

The fact is, pesticides have been associated with too many health problems to count. In fact, researchers found one type of insecticide in particular, called organophosphate, on the majority of leafy greens and green beans tested. Organophosphates are widely accepted as being toxic to the nervous system. They can have especially serious effects on neurological development in children.

Is this acceptable to you? It certainly isn’t to me. If you haven’t already become a regular at your local farmer’s market, consider this a wake-up call. It’s time to switch to organic produce. Yes, in some cases it is more expensive. But isn’t your health–and the health of the little ones in your life–worth it?

You can’t put a price tag on peace of mind.