Pesticides and Your Health

True or False: Organic fruits and vegetables have higher nutritional value? False. While pesticide exposure differs between organic and non-organic fruits and vegetables, studies have shown that the nutritional value is actually the same.

Why do you think it’s important for us to know about and avoid pesticides? Pesticides are designed to kill pests, but some pesticides can also cause health effects in people. The likelihood of developing health effects depends on the type of pesticide and other chemicals that are in the product you are using, as well as the amount you are exposed to and how long or often you are exposed.

Some short term effects of pesticide poisoning include: nausea and vomiting, diarrhea, loss of consciousness, seizures, coughing and sore throat, and weakness. Long-term, pesticides have been linked to cancer, Parkinson’s disease, Alzheimer’s, sterility, and developmental disorders.

Researchers have created a list of the “dirty dozen” and “clean 15” to help consumers know when they should buy organic and when it is unnecessary.

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If you had to guess which fruits or vegetables were the worst offenders for pesticides, which would you guess? A general rule of thumb is that if you eat the skin, and the fruit or vegetable has a thinner skin, chances are that it has a higher pesticide count. These are considered “dirty dozen” produce: apples, peaches, peppers, cucumbers, cherry tomatoes, strawberries, and spinach.

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Fruits and vegetables with thick skin, or vegetables that you peel tend to have less pesticide content. These would be on the “Clean 15” list: avocados, onions, pineapples, oranges, sweet corn, kiwi, mango, and grapefruit.

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The fruits and vegetables on the “Dirty Dozen” list, when conventionally grown, tested positive for at least 47 different chemicals with some testing positive for as many as 67.

Eating plenty of fruits and vegetables is essential no matter how they’re grown, but for the items with the heaviest pesticide loads, we urge shoppers to buy organic.

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