food to glow

feel good food that's good for you

We can’t always afford to eat completely organically, and even if we can, we sometimes can’t get the variety of foods necessary to give us optimum nutrition. So how can we eat more cleanly, and potentially more safely, without busting the budget or missing out on vital nutrients? With the help of figures from the USDA, FDA  and the US Environmental Working Group*, below is a listing of the most and least contaminated fruits and vegetables. This list includes both domestically grown and imported produce. The figures are based on measurable pesticides in the eaten portion of the foods studied (i.e. after washing and peeling). Additionally, there is also a short list of other staple foods that are good to buy organic.

There will inevitably be differences between the way pesticides and other chemicals are used in the US and the UK, but due to in the natural susceptibility of the same crops being subject to pests and diseases, this US-based listing may act as a guide. The US also grows many foods that we in the UK cannot, principally citrus and tropical fruits, and will have more stringent domestic pesticide and agricultural chemical guidelines than some countries from which the UK imports. Even so, it is important to bear in mind that it is important to eat a sensible, balanced diet, whether organic or not: conventionally and organically grown/reared foods have to meet the same strict food safety regulations. For plant foods especially, the phytochemical ‘anticancer’ properties are overwhelmingly more beneficial than the pesticides may be harmful.

Dirtiest (most contaminated fruits and vegetables) – 2014 results

Apple (most-fruit), Strawberries, Grapes, Peaches, Nectarines (imported) 

Celery (most-vegetable), Spinach, Sweet Red Peppers, Cucumbers, Cherry Tomatoes

Snap Peas (imported), Potatoes, Hot Peppers+, Kale+
(+ may contain pesticides of special concern)

Cleanest (least contaminated fruits and vegetables) – 2014 results

Avocados (least-fruit), Pineapple, Mango, Papaya, Kiwi, Grapefruit, Cantaloupe (domestic)

Sweetcorn (least-vegetable), Cabbage, Peas (frozen), Onions, Asparagus,
Eggplant (Aubergine), Sweet potatoes

The UK Pesticides Residue Committee doesn’t organise their data in as user-friendly a fashion, but here is a link to their latest quarterly reporting (March 2014) on testing of commonly consumed foods. Of particular interest is the Appendix of Results, where they list the number of samples for each food tested and give the number of these samples with multiple residues. 

Good To Go Organic – below are some commonly consumed products that tend to have higher levels of agricultural chemicals than the organic equivalent. But again, the levels fall well within our strict food safety limits.
Meat and Poultry – aside from considerations about antibiotic residue, pork, beef and chicken skin (less so in meat itself) can be contaminated with pesticides and fertilisers used to grow the animals’ feed and on the grazing land itself.

Milk and Dairy Products – there can be higher levels of pesticides and other man-made chemicals found in conventionally reared dairy cows. Milk tested in the UK does not routinely show traces of pesticides.

Coffee and Rice – these staple items come from countries with fewer restrictions on the use of agricultural and processing chemicals. 
Lastly, these authors offer thoughtful and insightful advice on the food issues we face today: Hattie Ellis (great new book, What To Eat?), Joanna Blythman, Michael Pollan and Marion Nestle.
Here is a link to the full list of all 48 tested plant foods from the 2014 EWG report. And here is the 2014 EWG Summary Report itself.
And, lastly here is a sweet video of an American schoolgirl’s organic versus non-organic experiment using sweet potatoes. Quite interesting. This short, naive video has caused quite a stir.
About these ads

5 thoughts on “Pesticides In Foods – A Quick Guide to Cleaner Eating

  1. andylmoore says:

    Interesting. Another post that’s pushing me to eat less red meat.

  2. Fascinating information – I’ve been looking for this for ages! I’m researching best diet for dementia (my mum) and found you via googling re Michael Moseley’s BBC Horizon prog and the Genesis Intermittent Diet (5:2 diet). Great blog. Thank you.

    1. So glad you found me :D Btw, coffee (really any caffeinated drinks up to 300mg/day total) has been shown to slow Alzheimer’s onset. Not sure how it is post-diagnosis.

      1. Unfortunately caffeine is a no no for her as she can’t tolerate it well. Dementia meds cause probs with digestive tract so must avoid all other stimulants. She was on decaf for many years pre-diagnosis too – so that’s interesting. Will google it. Thanks.

  3. great information. I have also been thinking of researching on this topic.

If you have time, I would love to hear from you. Thanks so much!

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

Circa Happy

.......... Food (esp. Thai Food) Always Leads to Happiness

The Healthy Epicurean

Healthy eating ideas for delicious, nutritious 'real' food with a French twist

Plate du Jour

My adventure with cooking


healthy tasty food that I love to make and eat and share

Natural Kitchen Adventures

Whole Foods, Paleo & Gluten-Free

Deena Kakaya Vegetarian Recipes & Cooking

Vegetarian Recipes & Cooking by Deena Kakaya Food Writer

Hearty Food

Healthy and simple recipes created by freelance chef and food stylist

Chez Foti

A family foodie blog from the French Pyrenees


mindfulness, relaxation, thought provoking images and poems

lemongrass and ginger

one cannot think well, love well, sleep well, if one has not dined well

One Happy Table

Vegan Food for the Whole Family

feel good food that's good for you

The Muffin Myth

Know What You're Eating


You are different. Eat and practice like it.

Seattle Foodshed

Our life in the garden, the wild and the kitchen

222 million tons

That's how much food is wasted each year. We want to change that ... and eat well doing it.

Cook Eat Live Vegetarian

Seasonal Vegetarian Recipes & Lifestyle Ideas

The Botanical Baker

Recipes and travel inspired by nature's botanical garden


Just another site

The Savvy Sister

Simple changes for healthy living


looking at colour and form News

The latest news on and the WordPress community.


Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 14,800 other followers

%d bloggers like this: