Where Do We Stand on Toxic Pesticides?
There’s both good and bad news in your grocery store produce aisle. The availability and quality of organic selections continues to grow. Retail giant, Walmart announced plans to expand its offerings in the organic marketplace, making it easier for the average consumer to shop for affordable produce. They promise to drop current prices for organic products by 25%, in an effort to attract new customers. The retailer says its marketing research indicates that shoppers are eager to buy organic, if only it were more affordable. Pundits predict that this may mark a turning point of sorts for the organic foods movement in America. Buying organic will become more mainstream, they foresee, and food producers will feel mounting pressure to provide organic produce. So Walmart’s move is welcome news.
Meanwhile, actions by the Environmental Protection Agency have forced farmers to abandon some of the most toxic pesticides they’ve been using on crops for decades. But there’s also some bad news. Certain highly toxic pesticides that were used for decades, until recently, can persist in the soil and continue to show up in crops. That’s why buying organic makes sense when it comes to certain fruits and vegetables.
The Environmental Working Group (EWG) is a non-profit organization that issues an annual list of the most—and least—contaminated produce items. According to EWG’s website (www.ewg.org), certain toxic pesticide residues were still turning up in squash grown in the United States, in 2008, even though these pesticides were phased out in the 1970s and 1980s.
This year, leafy green crops, such as kale and spinach made EWG’s list of the “Dirty Dozen,” because these vegetables still show traces of organophosphate pesticides—even though these
dangerous chemicals are no longer supposed to be in use.
Other items rounding out EWG’s list of the the most toxin-laden foods include apples, celery, cherry tomatoes, cucumbers, grapes, hot peppers, (imported) nectarines, peaches, potatoes, strawberries, and sweet bell peppers. Consider buying organic versions of these foods to get the most bang for your grocery-shopping buck.