The new "Shopper's Guide to Pesticides in Produce," recently released by the Environmental Working Group (EWG), is a quick and easy reference to which fruits and vegetables are the most and least contaminated with chemical pesticide residues. The guide is available as a free download at www.foodnews.org
• The Shopper's Guide, available for the first time in English and Spanish, is a wallet-size card listing the top 12 most contaminated fruits and vegetables, as well as the 12 least contaminated.
• The rankings, developed by EWG based on data from nearly 43,000 tests conducted by the Department of Agriculture and the FDA between 2000 and 2004, provide useful information for consumers when making buying decisions.
• According to EWG's analysis of the data, even consumers who do not eat organic can cut their exposure to pesticides by almost 90 percent by avoiding the most contaminated foods and eating the least contaminated.
• The "Dirty Dozen" most contaminated foods are peaches (97 percent tested positive for residue), apples (92 percent tested positive), sweet bell peppers, celery, nectarines, strawberries, cherries, pears, imported grapes, spinach, lettuce and potatoes.
• The "Consistently Clean" are onions (90 percent tested negative), avocados (90 percent), sweet corn (90 percent), pineapples, mango, asparagus, sweet peas, kiwi, bananas, cabbage, broccoli and papaya.
• According to EWG, washing and rinsing fresh produce reduces but does not eliminate pesticide residues, while peeling removes valuable nutrients. Because even small doses of pesticides can be highly dangerous - especially to fetuses and developing children - EWG recommends eating a varied diet, washing all produce and eating organic whenever possible.
• Quote: "Federal produce tests tell us that some fruits and vegetables are so likely to be contaminated with pesticides that you should always buy them organic. Others are so consistently clean that you can eat them with less concern. With the Shopper's Guide in your pocket, it's easy to tell which is which." - EWG Senior Vice President Richard Wiles