Worst Food Series 10: Non-Organic Potatoes and Other Fresh Produce with High Pesticide Contamination

By: Elna Botes van Schalkwyk
Non-Organic Potatoes
Other Fresh Produce with High Pesticide Contamination

Your best bet is to buy only organic fruits and vegetables, as synthetic agricultural chemicals are not permissible under the USDA organic rules. That said, not all conventionally grown fruits and vegetables are subjected to the same amount of pesticide load. While Koch focuses on potatoes, as they tend to take up a lot of pesticides and other agricultural chemicals present in the soil, I would recommend reviewing the "Shopper’s Guide to Pesticides in Produce" by the Environmental Working Group.

Of the 48 different fruit and vegetable categories tested by the EWG for the 2013 guide, the following 15 fruits and vegetables had the highest pesticide load, making them the most important to buy or grow organically: Apples, Celery, Cherry tomatoes, Cucumbers, Grapes, Hot peppers, Nectarines (imported), Peaches, Potatoes, Spinach, Strawberries, Sweet bell peppers, Kale, Collard greens and Summer squash.

In contrast, the following foods were found to have the lowest residual pesticide load, making them the safest bet among conventionally grown vegetables: Asparagus, Avocado, Cabbage, Cantaloupe, Sweet corn (non-GMO), Eggplant, Grapefruit, Kiwi Mango, Mushrooms, Onions and Papayas (non-GMO), Pineapple, Sweet peas (frozen) and Sweet potatoes. Note that a small amount of sweet corn and most Hawaiian papaya, although low in pesticides, are genetically engineered (GE). If you’re unsure of whether the sweet corn or papaya is GE, I’d recommend opting for organic varieties.

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