Are organic foods really better? The truth about the contents of your fridge

-Sep 3, Sophie Vokes-Dudgeon, Health -

Strawberries top dirty 12 list of pesticide contaminated fruit and veg
Pesticides are commonly found on the skins of 70 of fresh fruit and vegetables – here’s the lowdown on the fruit and veg it’s worth making the switch to organic for.


Looks like it’s time to go organic! A disturbing list of ‘Dirty 12’ fruit and veg found to contain pesticide residues even after washing and peeling has been revealed, and it’s bad news if you’re a strawberry lover.

According to the ‘Shopper’s Guide to Pesticides in Produce’ just published by the Washington DC based Environmental Working Group, almost 70 percent of conventionally grown, non organic foods retain chemicals in them that you can’t remove by scrubbing.


What is the science behind the rise in pesticides on fruit and veg?


First the science: The findings were based on tests conducted by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, and revealed different fruits and vegetables have differing levels of pesticide residue, probably due to the different ways the produce is grown.

Which fruit and veg are on the ‘Dirty 12’ list? 


Top of the list of the ‘Dirty 12’ were strawberries, followed by spinach, nectarines, apples, grape, peaches, cherries, pears, tomatoes, celery, potatoes and bell peppers.

EWG report that more than a third of strawberry samples contained 10 or more pesticides, while spinach had almost twice the amount of pesticide residue by weight compared with any other food tested.


Do I have to stop eating fruit and veg because of pesticides? 


It’s not all bad news – and it certainly isn’t a reason to stop eating fruit and veg. Alongside the list of ‘Dirty 12’ was a much more pleasant ‘Clean 15’; avocados, sweetcorn, mangoes, aubergine/eggplant, honeydew melon, kiwis, cantaloupes, cauliflower and broccoli were found to be very clean – with less than 1% of avocados and sweetcorn containing pesticide residue.


Which fruit and veg are worth switching to organic for?


What this means is there are some fruit and veggies that it’s probably really worth seeking out organic versions of, and others that it’s not really worth the extra expense.

Lead author Sonya Lunder told Everyday Health, “It’s a shopping guide so people can make choices appropriate for their diets, their budget, where they live and what’s in season.”

Such choices, she says, are particularly important for pregnant women and children. “These are the places where choices have the most impact. We are interested in less use of the highly toxic pesticides and more regulations and consideration of kids’ vulnerability.”


Is washing fruit and vegetables necessary? 


Wherever your fruit and veg is coming from one thing’s for sure – it’s really important to remember to wash it really thoroughly before eating.


If this worried you, Gwyneth Paltrow’s doctor’s advice on this subject will hopefully make you feel better. And, here’s our list of which foods are more nutritious if consumed raw, and which are best to cook. 

Healthy Beauty 24|7

Sign up to our weekly newsletter