Forget “fewer” pesticides. Demand NO pesticides.

When I share health news out of Europe, usually it’s something positive that I wish would happen here in the U.S. But it looks like Europeans aren’t getting everything right.

According to a report from the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA), 98.3 percent of foods in the EU contain pesticide residues. Granted, the levels were within legal limits. But if you ask me, “legal limits” of pesticides on foods should be banished. The number of things we have become willing to accept is absolutely unreal to me.

And yes, this particular report comes out of Europe. But here in the U.S. we have similar standards. In fact, last month, the USDA released its “Pesticide Data Program Annual Summary.” And the powers-that-be promptly patted themselves on the back for determining that more than 99% of our food supply contains chemical and pesticide residues within the supposedly “safe” levels set by the Environmental Protection Agency.

But really, there shouldn’t be any pesticide residue on our food.

And international findings still affect us here, considering so much of our food is imported from other countries.

In fact, the EFSA report pointed out that a significant percentage of foods from third world countries—where some of the most commonly imported produce is grown—have pesticide residues that exceed legal limits. (Ironically, we produce many of those pesticides here in the U.S. They’re banned for use here, but we ship them to other countries. Where they use them to grow food that they ship back here to us. Gives a whole new meaning to the term “vicious cycle,” doesn’t it?)

Now, maybe you think I’m being naïve. Or that I am just plain dumb to think we can feed people more safely than we do now. But maybe, if we did, we wouldn’t be as sick as we are as a nation.

This isn’t the first time I’ve written about this hidden health threat.  And unfortunately it probably won’t be the last. Because the fact is, pesticides have been associated with too many health problems to count—including autism.

Consider this one more reason to buy organic, locally grown foods whenever you can. I can’t stress enough how important it is to seek out a local farm, farmer’s market, or other store where you can ask questions about how the food is produced.

If you can’t afford to go completely organic, it’s a good idea to prioritize.

Every year, the Environmental Working Group puts out a list of the “Dirty Dozen” most contaminated foods. Unfortunately, pesticides are so common in our food supply these days, they’ve had to expand their list in recent years. (2014’s “Dirty Dozen Plus” contained 14 items.) But it’s still a good starting point when you’re deciding how best to spend your organic food budget.

It may take some extra time and effort on your part, but if it helps keep you and your loved ones safe and healthy, it’s well worth it.