little-girl-eating-appleThe 12 Most Contaminated Fruits and Vegetables

The top twelve most contaminated fruits and vegetables are peaches, apples, sweet bell peppers, celery, nectarines, strawberries, cherries, lettuce, grapes, pears, spinach, and potatoes (The Environmental Working Group—EWG). Because these fruits and vegetables have high levels of pesticides, they should always be purchased organic.

Pesticides in Breast Milk

The amount of pesticides a mother is exposed to throughout her life determines the amount of pesticides she will pass on to her unborn child in the womb and in her breast milk. Pesticides accumulate in the fat deposits of the body, where they can remain for decades. Because breast milk is made from maternal fat stores, pesticides accumulate to high levels in breast milk. Eating the 12 most contaminated fruits and vegetables will expose a person to about 14 pesticides per day.

Organophosphates—Mothers Beware!

Among the dozens of pesticides used on fruits and vegetables, one class is of particular concern when it comes to children’s heath and safety: the organophosphates (OPs). These toxic pesticides were derived from nerve gas developed during World War II. They can be passed from mother to child in the womb, as well as through breast milk. OPs are made to kill insects, but because insects have similar chemical processes as humans and animals, OPs can also poison and kill humans, especially children. In 2001, OPs accounted for about half of the insecticides sold in the United States, and about 60 million pounds are used on crops each year.

Why Children Are Vulnerable to Pesticides

Children are especially vulnerable to pesticides because of their rapid growth, high metabolisms, and low body weights. They eat more fruits and vegetables in proportion to their body weights than adults do and thus consume more pesticides than adults. The brains of children and fetuses are particularly vulnerable to pesticides, especially to neurotoxic pesticides like OPs. This is because the brains of the young are developing, the blood-brain barrier that serves to protect the brain from toxins is immature, and detoxification systems are weak.

The Dirty Dozen of Food—Just How Dangerous Are They?

The Environmental Working Group (EWG) rated the 12 most contaminated fruits and vegetables on a scale from 1—100, with 1 being the lowest and 100 being the highest possible residue of pesticides. Peaches had the highest rating of 100 and are thus the most contaminated. They were found to have 45 pesticides (see below *). Apples came second with a rating of 96 ( Of the 36 pesticides found on apples, close to 50% were neurotoxins. Bell peppers came in third with a rating of 86. Strawberries are the most heavily sprayed fruit in America. On average, 300 pounds of pesticides are applied to every acre of strawberries (compared to an average of 25 pounds per acre for other foods). Diseases linked to pesticides include brain cancer, asthma, leukemia, learning disabilities, reproductive dysfunction, and immune disorders.

Disturbing Trends Among Our Children

“Every day, nine out of ten American children between the ages of 6 months and 5 years are exposed to combinations of 13 different neurotoxic insecticides in the foods they eat” (EWG).

“For infants six to twelve months of age, commercial baby food is the dominant source of unsafe levels of OP insecticides. OPs in baby food apple juice, pears, applesauce, and peaches expose about 77,000 infants each day to unsafe levels of OP insecticides” (EWG).

“Many of these exposures exceed safe levels by wide margins. OPs on apples, peaches, grapes, pear baby food and pears cause 85,000 children each day to exceed the federal safety standard by a factor of ten or more” (EWG).

A Simple Solution

We at Goodwin’s Organic Foods & Drinks believe that an organic lifestyle safeguards our children from pesticides. Our produce has been grown without the use of synthetic pesticides, petroleum-based fertilizers, growth hormones, antibiotics, preservatives, ionizing radiation, or sewage sludge. Our organic eggs, meat, and dairy products come from animals that are fed only 100 percent organic feed. Organically-grown foods are more nutrient-dense and contain more cancer-fighting antioxidants than conventional produce. Mothers on organic diets have been shown to have significantly more conjugated linoleic acid (CLA) and trans-vaccenic acid (TVA) in their breast milk than do mothers on conventional diets. These fatty acids are believed to protect against a variety of diseases, including diabetes and colon cancer.

We understand that going fully organic is difficult for some people. We therefore recommend that, if at all possible, consumers avoid the “dirty dozen” and purchase these fruits and vegetables organic. The EWG warns that “washing and rinsing fresh produce may reduce levels of some pesticides, but it does not eliminate them. Peeling also reduces exposures, but valuable nutrients often go down the drain with the peel.” One study to determine preschool children’s OP pesticide exposure in Seattle discovered that the only child whose urine contained no measurable pesticide metabolites lived in a family that bought exclusively organic products and did not use any pesticides at home. Thus, organic produce not only reduces children’s toxic load, but is also life-sustaining and life-enriching, laying a solid foundation for them to achieve their fullest potential. Goodwin’s Organic Food & Drinks—vitalize your living.

*45 pesticides found on peaches: 4-d, Acephate, Allethrin, Azinphos methyl, Benomyl, Captan, Carbaryl, Chlorothalonil, Chlorpropham, Cypermethrin, DCPA, DDT, Diazinon, Dicloran, Dicofol, Dimethoate, Diphenylamine (DPA), Endosulfans, Fenbuconazole, Fenbutatin oxide, Fenvalerate, Fludioxonil, Formetanate hydrochloride, Imazalil, Iprodione, Lindane (BHC gamma), Malathion, Metalaxyl, Methamidophos, Methidathion, Methomyl, Mevinphos Total, Myclobutanil, Norflurazon, O-Phenylphenol, Parathion ethyl, Permethrin Total, Phosmet, Piperonyl butoxide, Pirimicarb, Propargite, Propiconazole, Tebuconazole, Thiabendazole, Triadimefon.