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Well Being Articles: Nutrition

Fruit and Vegetables with Most Pesticide Residues - Choose Organic!

Top 15 fruits and vegetables to buy organic!

In late 2011, the Environmental Working Group in the US released a list of fruits and vegetables which were most likely to have high levels of pesticide residues. They analyzed pesticide residue testing data from the US department of Food and Drug administration as well as the US department of Agriculture to come up with a concise list.

According to their list the top 15 fruits and vegetables to buy organic, so as to avoid exposure to high pesticide residues are:

1 – Apples, according to their data, 98% of conventional apples in the studies had pesticide residues.

2 – Celery, apparently, traces of 57 pesticides were found on the celery samples used in the tests.

3 – Strawberries, some of the strawberries had up to 13 kinds of pesticide residues!

4 – Peaches 5 – Spinach 6 – Imported Nectarines 7 – Imported Grapes 8 – Sweet Bell peppers

9 – Potatoes 10 – Domestic Blueberries 11 – Lettuce 12 – Kal 13 – Cilantro 14 – Cucumbers

15 – Domestic Grapes

Naturally, one would rather eat more fruit and vegetables, than not eat them because they are not organic, so what to do if you cannot find organic in your area?

Try a fruit and vegetable wash (locally you could try Enchantrix and internationally Ecover), cider vinegar is also a good option to use for scrubbing vegetables before using them. You could also sign up to one of the local box schemes, if you live in Johannesburg, try out Organic Emporium, you can find them here: and if you live in Cape Town, please contact me so that I can put you in touch with a local box scheme, you can do so by sending an email to: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

The 15 fruits and vegetables with the lowest pesticide residues in the data analyzed by the Environmental Working Group were:

1 – Onions 2 – Sweet corn (remember to opt for non GMO) 3 – Pineapples 4 – Avocado

5 – Asparagus 6 – Sweet peas 7 – Mangoes 8 – Eggplant/Brinjal 9 – Cantaloupe 10 – Kiwi fruit

11 – Cabbage 12 – Watermelon 13 – Sweet potatoes 14 – Grapefruit 15 – Mushrooms

Remember that these lists are formulated from US data so may differ slightly for South Africa, as a general rule of thumb, buying local, seasonal produce from small growers and farmers markets will go a long way to ensuring you are eating the healthier option! Buying directly from the farmer also allows you to ask questions regarding the growing of the food and the possible use of pesticides.

By Lela Rabie