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Top Pesticide Contaminated Foods

Megan Stubblefield
Tractor spraying field

A number of commonplace foods are very likely to contain dangerous pesticides. Many of the top pesticide contaminated foods are otherwise nutritious fruits and vegetables. Consumers will have to do a cost and benefit analysis when it comes to choosing to eat certain foods.

10 Top Foods Containing Pesticides

Many of these pesticide-rich foods are very likely to contain one specific pesticide, while others contain a large number of pesticides. Different non-profit groups or government agencies have regarded these as notably high in pesticides.

#1 Apples

The Environmental Working Group (EWG) named apples the fruit that had the greatest risk of pesticide contamination in a listing of 48 fruits and vegetables. A full 82.7 percent of apple samples were found to have residues of the dangerous chemical diphenylamine (DPA), according to research conducted by the United States Department of Agriculture.

Charles Nardozzi at the National Gardening Association talks about how pesticides are applied to apples in order to prevent disease infections and insect threats, and that rinsing and peeling the apples is necessary to truly remove those pesticides. Buying organic apples is a much more effective means of prevention, however.

#2 Peaches

According to research from the USDA Pesticide Data Program (USDAPDP) out of 812 US peach samples analyzed, 95 percent had pesticide residues, while 98 percent of the peaches produced in Chile showed evidence of pesticide residues. With some of the produce the USDAPDP researched, purchasing US products instead of Mexican or Chilean products made a substantial difference in terms of the pesticide contamination, but that was not the case with peaches.

#3 Grapes

Grapes have been consistently placed highly on the EWG's rankings for pesticide contaminated foods. WebMD shows that they were placed on the EWG's list for 2012, and they placed even more highly on the EWG's 2014 list.

#4 Peppers

Peppers as a category seem to be distressingly high in pesticides. Pesticide Action Network North America (PANNA) reports that the USDAPDP has recorded as many as 75 pesticide residues in hot peppers and 53 pesticide residues in sweet bell peppers.

#5 Cilantro

According to the Pesticide Action Network (PAN), cilantro has been found to be contaminated with the residues of up to 40 different types of pesticides. The fact that cilantro, also known as coriander, is often used as a seasoning is particularly worrying. People may be contaminating many of their dishes with the pesticides of cilantro, while they may consume other types of produce as occasional snacks.

#6 Pears

PAN states that of all the fruits used in baby foods, pears had the highest pesticide concentration next to peaches. Pesticides can be particularly damaging to developing minds, especially with very young children.

#7 Lettuce

PAN indicates that lettuce has been demonstrated to carry dozens of different types of pesticides. The fact that many people regularly eat lettuce-based salads as meals means that lettuce may be one of the most harmful pesticide carriers, given how frequently it is consumed. The increasing popularity of eating salads as meals will only make the problem worse.

#8 Catfish

Pesticide contamination is not limited to fruits and vegetables. According to PANNA, the USDAPDP has detected as many as 34 pesticide residues in catfish, making it one of the most toxic of all animal products. Many people know to avoid the types of fish that are high in mercury, but the pesticide content of fish should also be taken into account.

#9 Leafy Greens

Many types of leafy greens have been vulnerable to severe pesticide contamination. Spinach has made the EWG's 2014 list for the most contaminated fruits and vegetables. While collard greens and kale may be regarded as less toxic than spinach, the pesticides that they do contain are more dangerous than most, according to WebMD.

#10 Green Beans

PANNA reports that the USDAPDP identified 44 different pesticide residues in green beans. However, as WebMD reports, one of the reasons that green beans stand out is that they are likely to have the residues of particularly poisonous insecticides.

Reducing Pesticide Consumption

Some people may try to avoid all of the pesticide-rich foods, but buying their organic counterparts should suffice. There are also a number of foods that are not organic but that are relatively low in pesticides, which could function as alternatives for people that are unable to purchase organic foods but still want diets rich in fruits and vegetables. Informed consumers will be able to safeguard their health and keep their options open.

Top Pesticide Contaminated Foods