A pesticide may be a chemical substance, biological agent (such as a virus or bacterium), antimicrobial, disinfectant or device used against any pest. Pests include insects, plant pathogens, weeds, mollusks, birds, mammals, fish, roundworms, microbes and people that destroy property, spread or are a vector for disease or cause a nuisance. Although there are benefits to the use of pesticides, there are also drawbacks, such as potential toxicity to humans and other animals.
Pesticide use raises a number of environmental concerns. Over 98% of sprayed insecticides and 95% of herbicides reach a destination other than their target species, including non-target species, air, water and soil. Pesticide drift occurs when pesticides suspended in the air as particles are carried by wind to other areas, potentially contaminating them. Pesticides are one of the causes of water pollution, and some pesticides are persistent organic pollutants and contribute to soil contamination.
Below are two lists from the Environmental Working Group on the fruit and vegetables with potentially the most and least pesticides.
The Dirty Dozen: Fruits & Vegetables that contain highest pesticides load
- bell peppers
- imported grapes
Clean Fifteen: Fruits & Vegetables that contain the least pesticide residue
- sweet corn
- sweet peas
- sweet potatoes
You can peel your fruits and vegetables and trim outer leaves of leafy vegetables in addition to washing them thoroughly. Keep in mind that peeling your fruits and vegetables may also reduce the amount of nutrients and fiber. Some pesticide residue also collects in fat, so remove fat from meat and the skin from poultry and fish.
So how do you possibly avoid pesticides totally? The answer is either grow your own food or going Organic. Or both. Organic farming is the form of agriculture that relies on crop rotation, green manure, compost, biological pest control, and mechanical cultivation to maintain soil productivity and control pests, excluding or strictly limiting the use of synthetic fertilizers and synthetic pesticides, plant growth regulators, livestock feed additives, and genetically modified organisms. Since 1990, the market for organic products has grown at a rapid pace, to reach $46 billion in 2007.
Think before you buy. I’m starting to do that and buy organic foods. There are more and more options because demand is increasing. Be healthy and eco-friendly.