The 12 fruits and vegetables with the most pesticides

The 12 fruits and vegetables with the most pesticides
We all want to avoid pesticides. Everyone knows that eating a lot of fruit and vegetables greatly benefits our health. Most of us also know that it is best to buy organic products, without chemical pesticides. These can have all kinds of nasty consequences for our health, but also for that our planet.

How do you consume fewer pesticides?

But yes, organic products are usually more expensive and not everyone can always afford that. But does that mean you should eat fewer fruits and vegetables? I didn’t think so….but how? Which non-organic fruits and vegetables should you really avoid and how else can you ensure that most pesticide residues are removed from your fruits and vegetables? I will answer these questions below.

How do you ensure that you consume fewer pesticides?

Dirty Boxes…

In America, every spring a report is released by the EWG (Environmental Working Group) in which the ‘Dirty Dozen’ (the 12 most polluted fruits and vegetables) and the ‘Clean Fifteen’ (the products with the least pesticides ) for that year on a be listed.

Overall, we can rely a bit on the American list, because nowadays food from all over the world is sold everywhere. Below is the latest US Dirty Dozen list for 2020:

The 12 fruits and vegetables with the most pesticides

  1. Strawberries
  2. Spinach
  3. Kale
  4. nectarines
  5. apples
  6. Grapes
  7. peaches
  8. Cherries
  9. pears
  10. tomatoes
  11. Celery
  12. potatoes

Note: the Dirty Dozen is a list of fruits and vegetables with the highest concentrations of pesticides after they have already been washed !

…and the Clean Fifteen

These are the American ‘clean 15’:

  1. avocados
  2. sweet corn
  3. Pineapple
  4. Onions
  5. papayas
  6. (frozen) peas
  7. Eggplants
  8. asparagus
  9. Cauliflower
  10. cantaloupe melon
  11. Broccoli
  12. mushrooms
  13. White cabbage
  14. honeydew melon
  15. kiwis

Unfortunately, we cannot simply apply these lists one-to-one to the Netherlands, because different rules apply in the EU. In addition, some products also come from countries or regions other than where the US gets them. But what can we say about the situation in the Netherlands?

Hormone disruptors

According to an article in Trouw dated December 10, 2019, some foodstuffs in the Netherlands contain many pesticides that can lead to medical problems. These are hormone-disrupting pesticides that you really don’t want in your body; they are associated with infertility, birth defects, diabetes, obesity, ADHD, and autism, among others .

In fact, according to EU rules, people may not be exposed to these substances at all, but according to the environmental organization Pan Europe (Pesticide Action Network), those rules are not complied with or enforced in practice. Trouw based the article on research by the NVWA (Dutch Food and Consumer Product Safety Authority) from 2017.

The 12 fruits and vegetables with the most pesticides

Glyphosate (from Monsanto) is the most widely used but also the most controversial weed killer in the world. It may also be used in Europe.

Pesticides; the largest exceedances

The largest exceedances were found in products imported from outside the EU. Countries such as the Dominican Republic, Uganda, Kenya, Turkey, Colombia, Suriname, and Mexico score poorly. Real poison bombs include rambutans from Thailand, papayas from Brazil, and garter from the Dominican Republic. However, these are products that are eaten less often in the Netherlands.

It is noticeable that papayas are on the American list of Clean Fifteen, while papayas, at least those from Brazil, are apparently among the worst products here!

The largest exceedances of pesticide standards are found in products from outside the EU, such as the Dominican Republic, Uganda and Kenya

Multiple pesticides on one product

It is also common that several pesticides are found on one product at the same time, which can of course also be very harmful. This concerns, for example, goji berries, on which sometimes 4 different pesticides are found, or Spanish nectarines and peaches, with 2 different pesticides. Such a cocktail of these kinds of chemicals piled on top of each other does not do much good for health.

There are sometimes 4 different pesticides on non-organic goji berries

Spain scores poorly

It is particularly striking that the EU Member State Spain is doing very poorly: in the list of all countries with the most products with endocrine-disrupting pesticides, Spain is in thirteenth place, with a lot of pesticides on, among other things, peaches, grapes, plums, melons, and courgettes. . In that case, the Netherlands is still doing relatively well, although Dutch cucumbers, cherries, and strawberries, for example, sometimes turned out to contain quite a few pesticides.

So what should we really avoid?

Albert Villoldo: discover what these vegetables and seeds can do for your body

The analysis of the NVWA study from 2017 that Trouw conducted did eventually yield a list of the products to avoid. It is a list of 32 products that are commonly eaten in the Netherlands. They were chosen on the basis of the amount of endocrine-disrupting substances per product and the country of origin. Especially children and pregnant women are advised not to eat the products from this list.

If you ingest too many of these chemicals, it can disrupt the sex hormones, among other things, causing all kinds of problems related to fertility, reproduction and the health of offspring.

Pesticides on fruits and vegetables are associated with, among other things, infertility, birth defects, diabetes, obesity, AHDH, autism, Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s.

The ‘Dutch Dirty Dozen’

Below you see the ‘ Dutch Dirty Dozen ‘ that I have compiled based on the analysis of Trouw. The products are listed in order of country and product(s). Spain and the Netherlands are at the top because a lot of products from those countries are on the Dutch market. Also, the products that are commonly eaten here, such as cucumbers, Brussels sprouts, mandarins, and oranges, are higher on the list than the more exotic items such as rambutan:

  1. Spain: nectarines, grapes, peaches, melons, courgettes, strawberries, spinach, mandarins, peppers
  2. The Netherlands: sweet cherry, strawberries, cucumbers, apples, Brussels sprouts, carrots
  3. South Africa: plums, mandarins, oranges
  4. Egyptian oranges
  5. Moroccan mandarins
  6. Grapefruits from the USA
  7. Melons from Honduras
  8. Goji berries from all countries
  9. All countries: conventionally grown grapes
  10. Papayas from Brazil
  11. Rambutans from Thailand
  12. Garter from the Dominican Republic

If you avoid the above products as much as possible, it will come along nicely. I advise you not to get these fruits and vegetables from those countries at home. Get them from another source or eat them only organic.

Avoid the products from the list of the Dutch Dirty Dozen

If you can’t buy everything organically…

Of course it is still better to eat fruits and vegetables from conventional farming than no fruits and vegetables at all because you can’t always get or pay organic. If you don’t have your own organic vegetable garden – that would be nice, but of course it’s not for everyone either – then at least get as many seasonal and local fruits and vegetables as possible , which is a lot more sustainable and also cheaper.

…then these are the best options

In summary, it means that you:

  • buy organic as much as possible
  • seasonal and local buy
  • avoid products from the American Dirty Dozen and the ‘Dutch Dirty Dozen’
  • it is better to eat non-organic fruits and vegetables than no fruits and vegetables at all!

Remove Pesticides

How can you ensure that you remove as many pesticides as possible from the conventional products that you bring into your home? Below I mention a few possibilities.

Peel off

The 12 fruits and vegetables with the most pesticides

Sometimes it’s best to remove the peel to get rid of most of the pesticides. For example, don’t eat a nectarine or peach that isn’t organic with its peel. Still, this is a shame, because the skin itself is so healthy!

Wash carefully

Rinsing and brushing fruits and vegetables well with cold water will help, but washing in water with an acid such as vinegar or a base such as sodium bicarbonate removes even more of the harmful substances. Soak your vegetables or fruit for about 15 minutes in 1 liter of water with about 1 dl vinegar or 10 grams of sodium bicarbonate. This still doesn’t get everything away, but it is at least a lot better than just water. Another strong base you can use is the Terrawash Pesticide remover, which is available at a healthy life.

Blanch or cook

Blanching vegetables (or fruits) by boiling them very briefly and then quickly submerging them in water can remove up to half of the pesticides. Just cooking a little longer is also possible, but that can lead to a loss of especially vitamin C. It is better to cook for as short a time as possible.

Cleaning with ozone

The best is a new method of cleaning, namely with ozone. So-called ozone generators are available for this purpose. That is quite an investment, but it works very well and not only against pesticides. They are for sale at a healthy life. There you will also find more information about this.

You can remove pesticides by washing vegetables and fruit well with an acid or base, boiling or blanching, or cleaning with ozone.

We have a major impact on our planet by choosing our food. Less and less meat and fish, especially more plant-based and especially choosing organic products makes a huge difference to what our earth will look like in 30 years.


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