Biting into a juicy apple or crunching on a fresh stalk of celery is what healthy eating is all about. Along with their delicious taste, fruits and vegetables also carry megadoses of vitamins and minerals, making them the perfect food for healthy eating.
However, it has become well known in recent years that some fruits and vegetables carry much more than just vitamins and flavorful taste. Many are covered in pesticides and carry dozens of chemicals.
The FDA began testing fruits and vegetables for traces of pesticides, insecticides, and carcinogens several years ago. On the back of these tests, a list of twelve fruits and vegetables that rank the highest among chemical residue has been compiled. These are termed the "Dirty Dozen." Of those, the following are ten dirtiest and most potentially damaging fresh - but not-so-natural - foods you're eating right now.
Imported cherries are some of the cleanest fruits that you can eat. U.S. grown cherries, are not. They are among the twelve dirtiest foods due to their high levels of pesticides, insecticides, and carcinogens. Seventy-one percent of all U.S. grown cherries contain residues as opposed to only 35% of imported cherries.
Conventional potatoes are a staple of many family meals. They are more affordable than other fruits and vegetables, they are filling and chalked full of great vitamins and minerals. But, along with their great benefits, potatoes also carry a number of unwanted chemicals. According to the USDA's Pesticide Data Program, there are 35 different pesticides that are found on conventional potatoes. Chlorpropham, an herbicide has been found on 76% of all conventional potatoes. Chlorpropham, which stops weed growth, has been shown by the Extension Toxicology Network to slow growth and cause congestion of the spleen and death in laboratory animals.
A 2008 study by the US Department of Agriculture, found more than 50 pesticide compounds on domestic and imported peaches. Even scarier, six of the pesticide compounds found on the peaches were not approved for use in the United States. Five other compounds found exceeded the limits of the Environmental Protection Agency.
For many years blueberries were not heavily tested for pesticides and chemicals because their consumption rate was lower than their summer counterpart strawberries. But when their popularity began to rise, the FDA began testing blueberries in higher quantities. After higher testing levels, blueberries immediately took a place on the list of the dirtiest foods.
According to a recent report from the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine, Americans eat 84 pounds of chicken per person a year. To keep up with that demand, over 8 billion chickens are killed in the United States each year. And large manufacturing plants of chicken such as Tyson and Perdue can slaughter as many as 30,000 chickens in 1 hour! With all the chicken running through slaughtering tables, you can imagine the amount of cross-contamination that could occur from say, the feces left from the disembowelment of the chicken and the remaining edible parts of chicken.
To counter act the germs, bacteria, and viral bugs that occur naturally without chicken by-products, large manufacturing plants douse the chicken meat in chemicals. What chemicals do the manufacturers deem acceptable to be put on chicken meat? Chlorine and peracetic acid. These are the same two chemicals that have been linked to lung cancer. They in fact are so dangerous that a worker at a chicken plant died after coughing up blood and his lungs and kidneys failed. If the mention of chlorine didn't scare you, how about arsenic. Johns Hopkins University found levels of inorganic arsenic in chicken two to three times higher than the FDA suggests is safe.
4 Bell Peppers
The U.S. supply of bell peppers (sweet peppers) comes primarily from the U.S. and Mexico. A comforting fact when you think of the freshness of the peppers that are not subject to a long shipping time. Not so comforting though when you consider that bell peppers grown in the U.S. have the highest amount of pesticides on them than any other country.
In 2012, non-organic American apples were banned by Europe due to the fruit's large dose of diphenylamine (DPA). The European Union has banned the use of DPA on any of its foods and set a limit of 0.1 part per million of DPA. Sounds reasonable considering when you go to buy apples you aren't really searching for a healthy snack with toxic chemicals. But not for US officials. The average concentration of DPA in US apples is four times as much as the European Union finds acceptable (nearly .042 parts per million).
Why is such a chemical even present in American apples? DPA works to keep apples from browning during cold storage, thus allowing manufacturers more time to ship the sweet fruit before it begins to brown. It this chemical and several others that are continuously found on apples and the reason for the sweet fruit's place in the number one position of the dirtiest fruit on the Envioronmental Working Group's 2013 and 2015 list.
Despite the incredible health benefits of spinach such as a good source of iron and fiber, the leafy green is well known for its high occurrence of pesticides. In particular, samples of spinach were found to have the highest levels of cancer causing residue of any other produce. On several spinach samples permethrin, a human carcinogen and endocrine disrupter, was found at very high levels as well.
The bright red berry is the most favored of the berries throughout the majority of the United States, which means it is constantly in demand. California, the supplier of nearly 90% of the nation's strawberries, has worked hard to keep their strawberry crops up and running, but not without adding a few extra toxic chemicals.
A 2013 report from the Pesticide Action Network Analysis found that one sample of strawberries contained 54 different pesticide residues! Of the fifty-four types of residue, nine were known or probable carcinogens, 24 were hormone disruptors, 11 were neurotoxins and 12 were developmental or reproductive toxins.
The strawberry's soft outer texture makes it easy for chemicals to adhere to it and easier for the consumer to ingest since the outer portion is not removed like on pineapples or bananas.
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