A healthy diet incorporates a variety of fruits and vegetables. But according to Consumer Reports, not all produce is created equal, especially where pesticide use is concerned.
A recent survey by CR found that 85 percent of Americans are concerned about pesticides and understandably so. Pesticides are used on lots of produce, which is especially worrisome if you have children.
“Fetuses, babies and kids are more vulnerable to the effects of pesticides because their organs and nervous systems are still developing,” says Dr. Philip Landrigan, director of the Children’s Environmental Health Center at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York.
So, should we limit our diets to organic food?
CR said “organic is always the best choice because it is better for your health, the environment, and the people who grow our food.”
But organic produce comes with a hefty price tag, costing an average of 49 percent more than conventional fruits and veggies. Is the advantage worth the extra expense?
CR used U.S. Department of Agriculture data on pesticide residues, along with Environmental Protection Agency assessments of pesticide toxicity, to develop risk rankings for nearly 50 fruits and vegetables from very low risk to very high risk.
When it comes to these produce items, CR said you should always buy organic:
- Fruits: Peaches, tangerines, nectarines, strawberries and cranberries.
- Vegetables: Green beans, bell and hot peppers, sweet potatoes and carrots.
Despite potential produce pesticide risks, CR noted: “Though we believe that organic is always the best choice because it promotes sustainable agriculture, getting plenty of fruits and vegetables — even if you can’t obtain organic — takes precedence when it comes to your health.”
CR offers another helpful reminder: Regardless of whether you buy organic or not, you should wash your produce before you eat it.
Check out CR’s report, From Crop to Table: Pesticide Use in Produce.
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