If you’re reading this expecting me to be writing about unhealthy food, processed junk, and other obvious reasons that your food is trying to kill you, sorry to disappoint, I’m not going to do that. Sadly the disappointment won’t stop there as I take you on a journey that will likely open your eyes and ultimately make you consider exactly where you get your food from. Covered in this blog post:

  1. How fruit and vegetables could be contributing to health problems
  2. How you can reduce the risk of health problems caused by fruit and vegetables containing high levels of pesticides
  3. Where you can find fruit and vegetables with zero pesticides
  4. How you can make organic food shopping affordable

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Eating certain fruit and vegetables might be contributing to health problems

“Nearly 70 percent of the fresh produce sold in the U.S. contains residues of potentially harmful chemical pesticides, according to EWG’s analysis of the latest test data from the federal Department of Agriculture.” Environmental Working Group (EWG).

But, how dangerous are these chemicals? Turns out, while we still need more research on longer term issues, the shorter term issues aren’t great. One study in women undergoing infertility treatment found that those with a “higher intake of high–pesticide residue fruits and vegetables was associated with a lower probability of live birth, while low–pesticide residue fruit and vegetable intake was not associated with this outcome.”

While this, thankfully, doesn’t apply to many of us, the World Health Organisation (WHO) consider it a serious problem: “Pesticides are among the leading causes of death by self-poisoning, in particular in low- and middle-income countries.” A study in 2008 showed that 300,000 people may be dying in Asia every year from acute pesticide poisoning.

“They {pesticides} may induce adverse health effects including cancer, effects on reproduction, immune or nervous systems.” WHO.

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How you can reduce the risk

Everyone who lives outside the US has probably read this thinking “forking Amercian’s”, well your country is probably no better. Here’s what the Pesticide Action Network (PAN) who operate in the UK say about pesticide use in organic food:

“Most people wrongly assume that no pesticides are used in organic farming. However, it is important to note that organic farming takes a completely different approach to the use of pesticides compared to conventional farming.”

Thankfully the risk from pesticide use in organic farming is far less than conventional, with zero pesticides allowed to be used in the classes of carcinogenic (potentially cancer causing), reproductive toxicity and several other categories. In fact, PAN considers only two pesticides as a “cause for concern” in organic farming.

Positive news for those who are fortunate to live in an area with access to organic food, that’s forgetting the need to be able to afford the sometimes 3x increase in price between conventionally and organically grown produce.

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Where can you find fruit and vegetables which contain zero pesticides?

I’m opening myself up to cries from some people about contamination in the soil, water or even air you might use here, but I’m a huge supporter of growing your own. Granted you might not be capable of growing all your food: time; space; access; convenience; weather, are among the common reasons people don’t grow their own food.

Aeroponics can provide a unique and visually pleasing solution to those who believe they can’t grow their own, and often these systems actually make home-farming a pleasure and hobby - even if you might have a substantial outlay to buy the units at the start, they will save you money (& health) longer term.

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How can you make food shopping healthy and affordable?

I’m not going to ignore the fact that there will be people reading this thinking they can’t afford to eat 100% organic food nor grow all their own. Ultimately, neither of my suggestions would solve world hunger.

A combination of growing the high risk ’dirty dozen’ foods, which typically contain the highest levels of pesticides in conventionally grown food and then eating from the ‘clean fifteen’ list of fruit and vegetables, which typically contain lower levels of pesticides in conventionally grown produce, would ensure you get the most affordable, and healthiest, diet full of fruits and vegetables.

Summary

While it might not kill you, long term health concerns can be prevented by making smart choices about where you get your fruit and vegetables from. For what it's worth, you will almost always be better off eating fruit and vegetables that contain pesticides than you will food high in processed sugar and fat.

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About The Author: Pav Bryan

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