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Pesticide Residue Rankings: Apples and Celery Worst, Onions and Corn Best

They say an apple a day keeps the doctor away, but the nutritious, fiber-rich fruit has again earned the number one spot in the Environmental Working Group’s annual “Dirty Dozen,” a report that lists the fruits and vegetables most often carrying pesticide residues. On the other end of the spectrum, onions have again topped the group’s “Clean 15″ report.

Celery, sweet bell peppers, peaches, strawberries follow in the “Dirty Dozen” report, while sweet corn, pineapples and avocados are the next highest ranked among the “Clean 15.”

Both rankings appear in EWG’s 8th annual “Shopper’s Guide to Pesticides in Produce” released today.

The ranking system is based on the group’s analysis of more than than 60,700 samples taken from 2000 to 2010 by the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. The consumer guide, however, does not include the pesticide contamination levels, nearly all of which were found to be below federal tolerance thresholds.

Most toxicology experts, nutritionists, and federal health officials agree that the benefits of eating fruits and vegetables outweigh the risks of low level pesticide exposure.

When USDA released the most recent round of its pesticide testing data last month, the Agriculture Marketing Service said the findings confirmed that “food does not pose a safety concern based upon pesticide residues.”

“Similar to previous years, the 2010 report shows that overall pesticide residues found on foods tested are at levels well below the tolerances set by the [Environmental Protection Agency],” said AMS, in a release. “The report does show that residues exceeding the tolerance were detected in 0.25 percent of the samples tested.”

In its guide, EWG notes that consumers should not shy away from fresh produce. “Eat your fruits and vegetables!” reads the first line of the EWG’s online report, which points out that a diet rich and fruits and vegetables is beneficial.

EWG says their ranking system is to help consumers who would like to reduce their exposure. The group recommends that consumers choose organic when it comes to produce items that land in the top 12.

“The explosive growth in market share for organic produce in recent years testifies to a simple fact that pesticide companies and the farmers who use their products just can’t seem to grasp: people don’t like to eat food contaminated by pesticides,” said EWG president Ken Cook. ”Our shopper’s guide to pesticides in produce gives consumers easy, affordable ways to eat a diet rich in fruits and vegetables while avoiding most of the bug killers, fungicides and other chemicals in produce and other foods.”

According to EWG’s analysis, around 98 percent of conventional apples were found to contain detectable levels of pesticides. Domestic blueberries tested positive for 42 different pesticide residues, every nectarine USDA tested had measurable pesticide residues, and 13 different pesticides were measured on a single sample of both celery and strawberries.

The Alliance for Food and Farming, a group supported by the produce industry, has launched an effort to counter the EWG shopper guide, which is popular with consumers.

“What [the guide] doesn’t do is give you any information as to whether or not those amounts represent a risk,” said Dr. Carl Keen, a professor of nutrition and internal medicine at the University of California Davis, in a web video for the Alliance. “The average consumer doesn’t think about that. So I have concerns that he or she may shy away from consuming perhaps that apple, that banana, or that pineapple out of a fear that it’s unhealthy.”

“What’s occurring is they’re making this trade off, they’re not consuming it, which is quite bad in terms of their overall health, for a perceived risk that we can probably barely even quantify,” added Keen.

The Alliance is releasing a report today called “Scared Fat,” which outlines concerns some experts have about the negative impact pesticides worries can have on produce consumption — at a time when Americans need to consume more fruits and vegetables.

The group has also launched a pesticide calculator where consumers can plug in produce items and see how many servings they would need to consume to reach the known “No Observed Adverse Affect Level.”

EWG’s 2012 Shopper’s Guide to Pesticides in Produce

© Food Safety News
  • sarah

    Are these pesticide residues still there after washing? We wash all produce in a 1:3 vinegar:water bath. Would this remove or reduce the pesticide residue?

  • Organic Splendor

    Thank goodness we have EWG scaremongering to hawk overpriced organic produce. If we cannot frighten people they will not buy our manure-laden bug-chewed organic food. So, be afraid, be very afraid…and hand over your grocery money, sucker.

  • jed

    Sarah –unfortunately numerous pesticides in wide use are systemic — that is, they are taken up INSIDE the plant and cannot be washed off…

  • http://www.naturalzest.com Rachel

    First, I’d like to see some kind of proof that the dirty dozen actually scares people away from eating produce. I seriously doubt the average consumer is paying attention to it. I teach classes on food all the time and most people have never heard of it. Second, there are many reasons to buy organic aside from personal exposure. Environmental concerns, farm worker exposure and long term sustainability are more of a priority to me. Sure, I eat organic when I can, but I never skip fresh produce, even if it’s conventional. I teach the same thing in my classes.

  • pawpaw

    Sarah,
    We also wash our produce 3x. The concern is when spreader-sticker additives are used, that help the sprays remain on the plant during rain or irrigation. Would be interesting to know if and how the USDA washes the produce before testing.
    As a toxicologist/biochemist, can say there are instances where two chemicals have a synergistic effect, hence thresholds may be misleading. It’s difficult to test commonly occurring combinations of pesticides. And, are these thresholds adjusted for toddlers or young children?
    ‘Organic splendor’, you need to get out more often. I grow organic, in large measure, due to customer demand. The romaine heads I just picked will sell for $1.50 each at market today, less than other growers, including those that spray conventional compounds. I set my prices by labor and other input costs, as do other growers at our farmers market. I check prices at local groceries, and our market is comparable, and often less in high season.
    As for “manure laden and bug-chewed”, I’ve yet to see that as well. A number of my customers complement how clean our produce is, compared to other available at market. The organic produce at our market is among the cleanest, and often the most vibrant. Have seen this at other markets, too. Where do you shop?

  • john

    Quite disappointing seeing FSN giving a lobby group a platform by repeating its baseless scare mongering messages. In the text it becomes a bit clearer that the whole thing is just PR, but the headline is simply populist and not on par with what I’d expect from FSN. Scaring people who may not be able to afford (pretty pointless) organic fruit and veggies is counter-productive and does a disservice to public health! Conventional agriculture does a great deal in providing affordable produce also to those people who have to worry about more than lifestyle fads… (Would be interesting to look at all kinds of contaminants in fruit and veggies, incl. fungi (mycotoxins), pathogens, and whatever else there is in organic produce. )

  • sarah

    @Organic Splendor: Tell that to the double-headed, hermaphrodte amphibians. See how it flies.

  • Jon

    No matter HOW you spin it — “john”, “organic splendor”/ one and the same, et al — the fact is that TONS of toxic chemical pesticides are used in multiple combinations as short cuts to produce a wide range of our daily food supply — when they don’t have to be used at all.
    Get the facts out and Let the Eaters Decide

  • hbottemiller

    Sarah,
    The residue testing is done after the produce is rinsed and in some cases peeled. You can find more information about USDA’s sampling and testing procedures here: http://www.ams.usda.gov/AMSv1.0/pdp (See Standard Operating Procedures)

  • Kali, ecoveggie diva goddess

    I think everything should be organic because weeds and grubs and insects and molds have feelings and they have a right to live too. Unless we share our food with the adorable bugs how will they thrive? I say heap on the manure double thick and make it a fair split among us and the pests, like we do with organic veggies: here’s one for you, stinkbug…here’s one for you corn borer…here’s one for you red mold…here’s one for you aphid…here’s one for you blight…here’s one for you snail…here’s one for you ergot…and whatever’s left over is for affluent trend-setters who can afford the super-premium prices. It just doesn’t get any better than this!

  • Kelly G.

    It is vitally important to keep an unrealistic fear rampant among those fools most easily parted from their grocery money. Fear is all we have, fear and negative campaigning against good wholesome abundant safe affordable food. Organic stuff has too few redeeming features or benefits on its own to recommend it in the marketplace, especially at 2X and 3X retail price. So crank up the negative campaigning, girls, and keep the disingenuous feel-good testimonials rolling in! The fine professional snake oil salesmen at EWG have our backs with their million dollar budget and biased press releases.

  • Arnold Z.

    Ha! “Scared fat”, that’s a good one. I think EWG is content to settle for scared stupid. Seems to be no shortage of talent in that department.

  • sarah

    Many thanks for your responses – very helpful info. We buy organic when we can. This list will help us choose more wisely. Thanks again.

  • http://burningbird.net Shelley

    pawpaw, thanks for the informative response to the push back against organic fruits and vegetables that always happens with these stories.
    My concern about pesticide use is less about how much is showing up on our fruits and veggies, and more about impacts on environment. Which is probably why I buy organic whenever possible.
    Helena, I have to wonder if most people aren’t aware that the pesticide residue testing occurs _after_ washing and peeling. I think many consumers believe all they have to do is run the veggies under cold water, and they’re all set. Thanks for the link to the testing procedure.

  • Judith

    Scare stories??? — it’s more that the chemical agriculture minions are running scared because their protective cover is getting blown by the harsh light of consumer-driven food system transparency.
    TONS of toxic chemical pesticides are being used to produce the food grown in all our names — yet Organic is living proof that they’re not needed or necessary. So why are they in and on our foods???

  • Mister Katz

    Organic is living proof a few people have more money than brains. It has nothing to do with why we choose to sensibly control insects and fungi in foods grown in all our names. All people deserve to eat; all people with functioning brains, even those who are shopping on a budget. USDA’s testing shows remarkably controlled management of crop protection products. Very encouraging to learn of the safety of our food system.

  • Helena Bottemiller

    Sarah,
    The residue testing is done after the produce is rinsed and in some cases peeled. You can find more information about USDA’s sampling and testing procedures here: http://www.ams.usda.gov/AMSv1.0/pdp (See Standard Operating Procedures)

  • Janet

    I’d like to know how many apples or how much celery a person would have to eat to ingest a toxic level of the pesticides. And what kind of pesticides are they? And what symptoms would a person develop if they ingested too much? This information isn’t helpful without a context. An apple a day for 60 years? A bunch of celery a month?

  • mistered

    Well, the big ag shills are out in force here. Why don’t you all spray your next head of lettuce with a pint of roundup (while your kids stand very close by so they can inhale some of the mist), then rinse it off, and feed it to your family. Got a problem with that? Fools.

  • Dung the fields, Cassius

    Ho hum. Some things never change. In fact, the organic small farm lobby’s cookie cutter reports and talking points have become pretty damned lame and stale (they were always lame)….
    http://www.realclearscience.com/articles/2011/10/03/how_organic_activists_spread_misinformation_106252.html
    Beware the “big ag shills”. Same organic dung, different day. Am I wrong?

  • http://www.mjrcg.com Geoff

    @ Janet You can see how many servings of a particular produce item a man, woman, teen and child could consume at http://www.safefruitsandveggies.com. There is a calculator tool that uses the same USDA data the EWG uses to compile their list.
    For example a woman could consume 123,016 servings of celery in one day before there would even be a measurable amount (not yet even toxic) of pesticides in their body.

  • http://burningbird.net Shelley

    And I watched on the news last night as they covered this story. They brought a dietitian in from one of the local hospitals.
    She began with how we need to thoroughly clean our fruits and veggies, which someone disappointed me, as we know this won’t impact on the pesticide residue (good for other reasons,though).
    But then she came through in the end, saying that the only way to ensure we’re getting pesticide free fruit and vegetables is to buy organic, which is what she does for the hospital and her own family, as much as possible.
    The times, they are a changing. Monsanto must be scared to death.

  • wesley, passaic nj

    If anyone ate enough fruits or vegetables for any pesticide residue to approach measurable levels in the body chemical toxicity would be the least of their worries. With all that wonderful life-enhancing fiber and such an abundance of all-natural fructose they would be perched on the throne nonstop for days. Imagine all the heroic straining and groaning to birth a record breaking trophy sized stool. Youtube would go viral! The wallpaper would take a blistering beating and would never be the same but that is the price of fame immortalized in the Book of World Records.

  • http://burningbird.net Shelley

    Make that “which somewhat disappointed me…”
    darn typos

  • mistered
  • Alliance for Food and Farming

    Lots of questions here about washing. The FDA clearly states that washing fruits and veggies under running tap water will reduce or remove any minute pesticide residues IF present at all. Further, EWG is disingenuous in their claim that all the samples are washed/peeled. In fact they rely on FDA sampling data as well and FDA does not wash/peel those samples prior to testing. Another example of EWG’s many misleading statements.
    But, health officials everywhere agree that consumers need to follow one simple piece of advice – eat more of both organic and conventional fruits and vegetables for improved health. And, remember that there are decades of scientific studies that show the benefits of eating a plant-based diet and those studies were conducted using conventional produce.
    So wash, eat and enjoy.
    For those questioning who the Alliance for Food and Farming represents and where our funding comes from, simply visit our website at safefruitsandveggies.com to view our 2011 tax return in its entirety. Bet EWG doesn’t do that. But maybe they should so we can all see who is funding them.

  • mistered

    AFF – bah. Contributors are mostly big ag. Why don’t you list your members on the web site? Who among them is organic?

  • http://www.livelogcity.com/users/shaybutt922/ Kostenloser Stromanbieter Vergleich online

    I seldom write comments, however i did some searching and wound up here Pesticide Residue Rankings: Apples and Celery Worst, Onions and Corn Best.
    And I actually do have a couple of questions for you
    if it’s allright. Could it be simply me or does it look as if like a few of these responses come across as if they are left by brain dead people? :-P And, if you are posting on other online sites, I would like to follow everything new you have to post. Would you list of the complete urls of all your shared sites like your twitter feed, Facebook page or linkedin profile?

  • http://burningbird.net Shelley

    IRS Form 990 filings are somewhat uninformative, because they don’t require a listing of donors. So when a site such as Alliance for Food and Farming comes in and talks about IRS filings, think grain of salt.
    What’s more important is how the site spends the money it does get. And how transparent it is about larger supporters.
    The EWG has a funding page, and also lists its main sponsors. That latter is key.
    http://www.ewg.org/about/funding
    That link to the funding page is easy to discover from the EWG main page. EWG is also consistently rated 4 star in Charity Navigator. But if you want the 990 filing, easy enough to find:
    http://www.eri-nonprofit-salaries.com/index.cfm?FuseAction=NPO.Form990&EIN=522148600
    The Alliance for Farming and Food commenter states that one can find its 990 form easily from its web site, but you actually can’t. Perhaps the commenter from the Alliance for Farming and Food could provide a direct link.
    Better yet: a link to a page listing primary sponsors.

  • Alliance for Food and Farming

    Sorry. Our tax return can be easily found in the About Us section of the safefruitsandveggies.com website. And, our primary sponsors are listed on that tax return as required by law. Hope that is helpful.

  • http://burningbird.net Shelley

    Thanks for the note. I had actually missed the About Us link earlier.
    For others, the direct link to the California tax filing is
    http://www.safefruitsandveggies.com/sites/default/files/2011%20Tax%20Return_1.pdf
    I could not find a link to the Federal income tax return.
    The California return does list sponsors. I see pretty much every major user of pesticides in California. At least the funding is out in the open, I can respect that.
    The USDA provided a block grant. Sigh.

  • Alliance for Food and Farming

    Shelly – Glad you found the information helpful. You can learn more how organic and conventional farmers control pests and diseases in their fields and orchards by visiting the “Ask the Experts” section of the safefruitsandveggies.com website. On that site you will see that organic and conventional farmers approach pest and disease control strategies in a very similar manner. Further both organic and conventional farmers only apply a pesticide when all other control measures have been unsuccessful. You may also be quite interested to learn that two out of the top three pesticides used by California farmers are approved for organic use. Learn more by checking out the report on pesticide use trends in the Research section of the safefruitsandveggies.com website.
    Glad that you found our tax return helpful. But, I didn’t find the same level of transparency when I checked out the info you sent regarding EWG. EWG doesn’t list individual amounts given by a foundation or a corporation on their tax returns or website.

  • http://burningbird.net Shelley

    Alliance, you missed the link I gave to the EWG funding page?
    Most of the organization’s money comes from individual donors and foundations, and all of the foundations are listed.
    The funding page also breaks down how it spends its money. It’s also a 4 star Charity Navigator non-profit.
    And I believe that organic and conventional farmers approach agriculture in quite different manners. For one, organic farmers cannot use synthetic pesticides.
    http://www.epa.gov/oecaagct/torg.html
    http://greenliving.nationalgeographic.com/synthetic-vs-organic-insecticides-2638.html

  • Alliance for Food and Farming

    Hi Shelley – They list the foundations but they don’t list the amounts provided…and what about the corporations and large individual donors? But, here’s my point. You stated in an earlier comment that you respected the posting of our tax return on our safefruitsandveggies.com website, which we appreciate. Yet, you and others don’t ask for the same level of transparency from EWG. You seem to hold them to a different standard. But, we can agree to disagree on this point. We’re glad that you have taken the time to review our information and we thank you for engaging with us through this comment stream.

  • http://burningbird.net Shelley

    Alliance, your comment is disingenuous, to say the least.
    When we note that all of your funding is providing by groups representing corporate agricultural interests that make use of pesticides, and therefore we should treat what you say about pesticide with understandable skepticism, you note that you report your funding to the dollar level and therefore we’re supposed to what? Accept what you say? See this as something to discredit EWG?
    Corporate funding is less than 3 percent of EWG’s funding. I think we can safely say that it doesn’t have an impact on what EWG does. As for the foundations, look at them: how do any of them profit from EWG’s actions?
    Who profits from EWG’s actions, other than consumers by being better informed?
    I suppose we could say organic farmers benefit, but they’re not an especially powerful group of people.
    Instead of focusing on the actual report, you’re attacking the reporter. Is that because there’s nothing you can say that discredits the report?
    What EWG reported is produce that has the highest residue of pesticides, as compared to produce that has the lowest. Do you disagree with its findings?

  • Alliance for Food and Farming

    Hi Shelley: Yes, we definitely disagree with EWG’s findings and conclusions and we’re not alone. (Again, see the Journal of Toxicology peer reviewed paper as well as the Expert Panel report in the research section of safefruitsandveggies.com.) Further, EWG repeatedly contradicts themselves saying in one breath that we should be eating more conventionally grown produce and in their very next statement saying that they are “doused with toxic pesticides.” Clearly inflammatory, contradictory, incorrect and unscientific. And, we now have consumer research that shows that this inflammatory messaging is having a negative impact on consumption and is undermining government health initiatives to improve our diets. Finally, decades of nutritional studies have shown that people who eat a plant-based diet enjoy better health and these studies were all conducted using conventionally grown produce. So, if EWG agrees and actually recommends that we should be eating more conventionally grown produce, then they must also believe they are safe. So why have a list at all?
    Regarding funding, again we can agree to disagree but you are holding us to a different standard. There is a huge EWG funding “bucket” attributed to individual donors. Aren’t you curious if they have any large single contributors and who they might be? And, why do you dismiss their corporate sponsors?
    We urge you and others to look at our 12 Reasons Not To Use the Dirty Dozen list at the safefruitsandveggies.com for more information.

  • http://burningbird.net Shelley

    EWG states that people should eat more fruits and vegetables, conventional if they must. What they recommend is eating the fruits and vegetables with the least contamination if eating conventionally grown produce, and buying organic as much as possible with the most contaminated.
    Frankly, it’s sound reasoning.
    Are you denying the report’s findings? Are you actually saying that it’s findings–which are derived from USDA data–are inaccurate?
    That apples don’t have the highest pesticide residue among fruits and vegetables? That onions don’t have the least?
    EWG makes no claim about tolerable levels and recommendations–all it does is list fruits and veggies in ranking order by pesticide residue.
    Do you disagree with the order? Do you actually disagree with its findings?
    I looked at your little reports, and all I see is corporate double speak. You’re all over the place taking quotes out of context.
    EWG doesn’t say eat no apples. What it does say is, whenever possible, eat organic apples. It doesn’t say not to eat fruits and veggies. It does say to minimize your exposure to pesticides by eating fruits and veggies with less pesticide residue, and eating organic whenever possible of the fruits and veggies with higher pesticide residue.
    This is all sound advice.
    You know, you actually make the situation worse by your hysterical reaction to this report. Especially since nothing you say counters what the report says, you’re just trying to bury the report in, well, gobbledygook.
    What you don’t realize is that you’re actually providing validation of the EWG report.

  • Wendy

    Shelley, why don’t you take your stubborn opinions and your impolite sophistry and go back over to your burningturd.com website and blaze one up over there? Stay there until you can control your emotional tendency to become overwrought and pissy when anyone exposes your nonsense. You are hurting your own cause by alienating us the way you do. Kinda sick of your schtick Shelley and it didn’t take long.

  • Alliance for Food and Farming

    I don’t know how we can be more clear – yes, we disagree with the EWG report. Very strongly, in fact. But, again, we are trying to provide consumers with more information so that they can make more informed buying decisions. And, we’re also hopeful that this information from a multitude of experts in toxicology, nutrition and farming will reassure consumers about the safety of all produce. That information can be found at safefruitsandveggies.com.

  • JJ

    This debate organic vs conventional farming will continue for eternity. As a food safety professional, I feel the need to chime in on this topic. There are benefits to both types of agriculture. For the record, I do not buy organic produce. I pay more attention to where the produce comes from. There are many more risk factors that never seem to play into this decision. One way to minimize your risk here is to buy domestically grown produce. Many of the countries that our produce comes from have little to no regulation when it comes to agrichemicals. FDA does a fantastic job with monitoring these imports, but certainly can’t catch them all.
    Some growing regions have issues with soil contamination (heavy metals to be specific) and basic food safety issues. I see numerous recall notices and border retentions weekly from pathogens and filth.
    Keep in mind that becoming a farmer in today’s world is not going to make you rich. Profit margins on crops grown for human consumption are low to say the least. American farmers find themselves having to compete in a market where other growing regions have more favorable climate conditions and fractional labor costs. Regulations placed on domestic growers are also rather stringent and expensive. Chemical applications,testing, and inspections are not cheap. Throw in the fact that farmers growing corn for use in ethanol production are receiving far more government subsidies than food producers.
    In short, the point is when you decide what is best for you and your family, take a moment and consider the whole picture before you allow any one lobby or action group sway your opinion.

  • http://burningbird.net Shelley

    Alliance, but your web site doesn’t refute the findings, it tries to bury them.
    Wendy, your claim of my alienating you implies you have an open mind on the topic. I find that unlikely.
    JJ, the EWG report provides information. I would assume as a food professional, anything that provides more information allowing the average consumer to make informed choices would be welcome.
    Ah well, I guess I and others in this thread will have to continue to disagree. I appreciate the civility of our discourse, Alliance.

  • http://www.scoringag.com Brunhilde Merker

    The big question is in all these discussions is:
    Is it ORGANIC? By Mischa Popoff http://www.isitorganic.ca/
    Even the Europeans have problems in tracking organic products.
    http://brussels.cta.int/index.php?option=com_k2&id=6876:ms-encounter-difficulties-in-ensuring-the-traceability-of-organic-products&view=item&Itemid=54
    How do we know what we buy if there is not traceback with records to prove it?

  • book

    I have found out the hard way that eating foods with larger amounts of pesticides means I will deal with health issues so always eat organic on things like apples, potatoes, peppers and other foods that are most likely to cause issues. Mean while I grown a garden and buy organic and it often does not cost any more that it does to eat non organic. Better for workers, better for us, better for the earth.

  • http://www.nontoxiclivingchoices.com/eating-organic-foods.html Tunji

    Pesticides-ever wondered why you do not pour it on your salad?
    Because by definition, a pesticide is a poison. How else would it kill pests?
    Pesticides also kill beneficial soil organisms such as nitrogen fixing bacteria and worms. These help fertilize the soil naturally, aerate the land and help in soil cohesion.
    In their absence, the soil is not as fertile, has less nutrients for plant uptake and foods grown on such soil would have less nutrition.
    Trying to solve that problem with some chemicals concocted in a fancy lab does not work, and can actually make the plant more susceptible to pests-which would require more spraying; a vicious cycle.
    We are told the pesticides in foods are within safety limits.
    To which I say-pour that much of it in your soup every day.
    I know there is a lot of money riding on all this. But there is no way you can convince a lot of people who eat organic, that pesticide-drenched foods are as safe as organic-because they just aren’t!
    A lot of these health conscious individuals have been called nuts, but this is seen as a reaction to the exponential growth of the organic market.

    • adurgin

      Tunji, I am a fruit grower on the east coast. I often hear spray recommendations for both conventional and organic growers. While I technically fall in the conventional category, I do keep my sprays at a minimum, use IPM, and alternative control methods like mating disruption for moth control (apple worms in other words). There’s one thing I wonder if you know– and that is the fact that organic fruit is the most heavily sprayed fruit out there. Call it pesticide-drenched if you wish. They use very high levels of some chemicals, because they have a more limited arsenal to pull from. They typically spray 3x the amount of copper on apples as a conventional grower for instance. The other fact is that much fruit that is sold as organic is not. I heard a marketer gloat just this fall over the fact that he took fruit from a conventional grower and sold it as “organic” for twice the money. Know your grower. A lot of us have an overwhelming amount of spray regulations, labor regulations, and food safety regulations to comply with. It is tough to survive.

  • adurgin

    I think the reason apples are part of the Dirty Dozen is because they are so difficult to grow. Ever grow nice apples off your unsprayed backyard tree? We own a small orchard and would gladly would grow food organically if it were possible in our region. There are very few organic apple growers in the northeast for a reason–it’s not possible.  Organic is a nice idea but that’s where it stops. The reality is that organic orchards are sprayed much more than conventional orchards. One example is the copper sprays. They spray three times as much copper on the trees.  We are increasingly regulated in the sprays we are allowed to use. Every year old sprays are taken off the market in favor of newer safer chemistry. Labels of our chemicals are not skull-and-crossbones. Many are simply caution labels or advisory. All of this has allowed some problems to flare in recent years. The brown marmorated stinkbug is one example. We have been forced to revert to older chemicals in order to save our apple crop. Without these chemicals, we would have 100% loss. With them, probably 30-50% are still damaged by the bugs–an unacceptable level. We dearly love farming, but it’s becoming increasingly hard to exist as profit margins narrow.  To believe that nature left to herself is ideal is a delusion. Ever see an abandoned orchard? Let me know when you find a nice apple from an abandoned orchard. 

    • Scidney

      I’m so glad to read a viable story from a grower. I had a conversation with an upstate NY dairy farmer and he “enlightened” me on the yay’s and nay’s of growing (organic or otherwise). I think the truth is all powerful and not necessarily what people want to hear. Bandwagons are just that. Thanks for caring and growing. I grew up on Long Island in the land of tasty potatoes. Ever taste one of those any more?

      • adurgin

        Oh, I love potatoes. But what’s this about Long Island? I’m clueless. Thanks for listening to my spiel on fruit-growing. Sometimes I sense a big disconnect between consumers and producers and there’s a lot of mis-information out there.

  • crtwedt

    Can you include what we can do about it at home? Simple water bath, vinegarized water bath, please advise how to clean pesticides off our produce to make it healthier?

    • Omustgo

      I did read that soaking apples ,celery peppers cucumbers,strawberries in water with like 20% white vinegar for 15 minutes ,then rinsing with cool water removes a lot of the residue. My Kids love apples,strawberries, celery and cucumbers,so I will try to buy organic as much as possible as a Fresh Market opened 2 miles from my home.

  • Karin Six

    Could this be what really killed Steve Jobs? Seems likely…

  • RedBaxter

    We do need up-to-the-minute lists of the amount we would need to consume in order for a cumulative effect to cause problems. I remember well when I was about 25 years old (I’m 70) the to-do over nitrates in smoked meats, particularly bacon. Further along in the report, it was also stated that a person would have to eat 27 pounds of bacon each day to get to the levels of toxicity that would cause harm. There was also the study that proved that charcoal-grilled steaks contained carcinogens. The last sentence in that article was, lest some people think to toss their grills immediately; “The scientists who did the study did not throw away the steaks they grilled, they ATE them!” Good common sense advice. Some people are hysterical enough for the whole nation.

  • Liljon Toaster

    the truth of the matter is the only thing that matters to most in this world anymore is the almighty dollar,from pharmaceuticals to food to gas well fracking and it,s 750 poisonous chemicals including ethylene glycol[antifreeze],and agent orange now included in there food pesticides!really!