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Fresh produce

Fresh produce often contaminated with pesticides

Thursday, March 18, 2010 by: David Gutierrez, staff writer
Tags: fresh produce, pesticides, health news

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(NaturalNews) A number of recent tests have revealed the astonishing degree to which the non-organic fruits and vegetables on grocery store shelves are contaminated with dangerous pesticides.

A test conducted by the U.S. Department of Agriculture found traces of more than 50 different pesticides on peaches destined for U.S. stores. Five of the compounds were found at levels higher than those considered safe by the Environmental Protection agency, and six of them were chemicals not approved for use in the United States.

The peaches were grown both domestically and overseas.

In a followup study, the Chicago Tribune tested organic peaches grown in California, Michigan and Illinois. The California peaches carried residue from only one pesticide, while the Michigan and Illinois peaches contained residue from three or fewer. One of the pesticides found on the California peaches was not approved for use on organic crops. Rich Weinzierl of the University of Illinois said that even if organic farmers are careful, their crops can still be contaminated from neighboring fields or at processing facilities.

Peaches regularly show up on the Environmental Working Group's "Dirty Dozen" list of the 12 most contaminated fresh food products in the United States. The others on this year's list are apples, bell peppers, imported carrots, celery, cherries, imported grapes, kale, lettuce, nectarines, pears and strawberries.

Another recent study found significant levels of organophosphate pesticides in the bodies of Seattle children between the ages of three and 11 who were eating a diet composed of mostly non-organic food. After five days of eating an organic diet, the children's organophosphate levels dropped so low as to be almost undetectable.

Pesticides have been linked to a wide range of health effects, particularly damage to the reproductive, endocrine and neurological systems. For this reason, Harvard scientist Alex Lu advises people to eat organic whenever possible, and to avoid non-organic produce from the dirty dozen list -- especially pregnant women and children.

"Don't eat conventional peaches while you are pregnant," he said. "It's a critical time. Spend a little bit more money to buy organic just to be safe."

Sources for this story include: www.chicagotribune.com
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