Here is the list of fruits and veggies for which you need to either go organic or learn to do without (substitutes provided).
Strawberries are a good source of vitamin C, but vitamin C is common in many other fruits and vegetables. Strawberries consistently show high levels of fungicides. Two of these, captan and iprodione, are classified by the EPA as probable human carcinogens. Another common fungicide, vinclozolin, blocks the normal functioning of the male hormone, androgen. Strawberries are also routinely contaminated with endosulfan, a relative of DDT that interferes with normal hormone function by imitating the hormone estrogen. Nutritious substitutes with far lower pesticide residues include blueberries, raspberries, blackberries and kiwis.
Green bell peppers are a good source of vitamin C, and red bell peppers add vitamin A and a moderate dose of carotenoids to a meal. Unfortunately, bell peppers are more heavily contaminated with neurotoxic insecticides than all other crops analyzed. Good alternatives include broccoli, romaine lettuce, or carrots among many others.
Spinach is rich in vitamins, iron, folate and carotenoids. It is also high in DDT, permethrin, chlorthalonil and other cancer causing pesticides. Other greens such as kale, Swiss chard, mustard greens, collard greens are good nutritional substitutes, but have a roughly equivalent pesticide contamination profile. For raw spinach, romaine lettuce is far less contaminated alternative that is relatively high in carotenoids. For cooked spinach, broccoli or brussels sprouts are reasonable substitutes that are high in carotenoids, vitamins A and C, and folate (folic acid).
Cherries are a marginal source of vitamin C, but have little other nutritional value. Cherries from the United States, in contrast to their imported counterparts, are heavily contaminated with pesticides. Nutritious substitutes with far lower pesticide residues include blueberries, raspberries, blackberries, kiwis, oranges and watermelon.
Peaches provide low amounts of vitamins A and C, and negligible amounts of carotenoids. They also can contain a heavy dose of the cancer causing fungicides captan and iprodione, and the neurotoxic pesticide methyl parathion. Many fruits with lower and less toxic pesticide loads provide the same or better nutritional benefits. Nectarines, tangerines, cantaloupe, and watermelon provide more vitamins A and C, and many other fruits – like oranges, grapefruits, papayas, or kiwis – provide high levels of one of these two vitamins.
Cantaloupe is a highly nutritious fruit, packed with carotenoids and over 90 percent of the U.S. Recommended Daily Allowance (USRDA) for vitamins A and C. To avoid cantaloupes with high pesticide residues, hold off on this fruit during January through April, when imports from Mexico are at their peak. The rest of the year, enjoy this marvelous melon.
Celery is a marginal source of carotenoids, but provides virtually no vitamins or minerals. It is a major source of exposure to neurotoxic pesticides and the probable human carcinogen, chlorthalonil. Celery also had the highest percentage of samples with detectable residues (81 percent) of all 42 fruits and vegetables analyzed. Romaine lettuce and carrots are just two of the many safer salad substitutes.
Apples provide low amounts of vitamin C, but provide very little else in the way of measurable nutrients or carotenoids. Their pesticide load, in contrast, is disturbingly high. There were more pesticides detected on apples (36), and more pesticides found on single samples of apples (7) than any other fruit or vegetable analyzed. Safer and more nutritious substitutes would include just about any fruit or vegetable not on the most contaminated list.
Apricots are a nutritious fruit providing relatively high levels carotenoids, vitamins A and C and potassium. Unfortunately, they typically contain high levels of pesticides, including the probable human carcinogen, captan, and the endocrine (hormone) disrupters endosulfan and carbaryl. An equally nutritious and safer substitute is cantaloupe from the United States. A host of other fruits and vegetables provide vitamins C and A and other nutrients.
Green beans provide modest amounts of vitamins C and A and potassium, but little in the way of carotenoids. Green beans are also a major source of the cancer causing fungicides chlorthalonil and mancozeb, the neurotoxin methamidophos, and the endocrine disrupter endosulfan. Safer and more nutritious alternatives include green peas, broccoli, zucchini, potatoes and many other vegetables.
Grapes are tasty, but provide few vitamins or carotenoids. Complementing this slim nutritional profile, grapes from Chile add a load of cancer causing and endocrine disrupting fungicides. The solution for grape lovers is simple: eat U.S. grown grapes in season and avoid grapes from January through April, when grapes from Chile dominate the market.
Cucumbers have few vitamins or carotenoids. They do, however, have a tendency to absorb dieldrin – a banned, extremely potent carcinogenic pesticide – from the soil. When eaten, dieldrin persists in human body fat for decades. Substitutes for cucumbers include just about any vegetable not found on the most contaminated list.
This article is an extract of the San Diego Times from 1996 (A shopper’s guide to pesticides in produce)