If you love reading about the latest health news, then you are probably very familiar with the so called “Dirty Dozen” list. If not, the dirty dozen is an annual report from The Environmental Working Group that tests various fruits and vegetables for pesticide residue. The Dirty Dozen is their interpretation of the data and which produce items tested highest for containing pesticide residue.
The problem with this report is that it is actually loaded with pseudoscience (typically referred to as “woo”), questionable methodology, as well as plenty of misinformation.
Let’s look at the top 5 things they will never tell you about that dirty dozen list.
- Their Methodology Isn’t What You Think It Is
Scientists at UC Davis found in a 2011 analysis of the “dirty dozen” that it was seriously flawed. These scientists discovered that a consumers’ exposure to what the Environmental Working Group determined was the 10 most frequently found pesticides list were at such low levels that they were “negligible.” They also found that the methodology that the EWG uses was insufficient to allow for any real ranking among the produce being tested. In short, the EWG could rank foods and pesticides all day long, but it didn’t make any difference because the amounts of residue contained were so small that they were not worth mentioning.
- You Would Need to Eat Tons of Food
One of the things the EWG fails to note on their dirty dozen list is the quantity of food you would have to eat to get any real impact from the pesticide residue. For example, strawberries always make this list; however, the EWG doesn’t mention that a child would have to eat more than 1500 strawberries in one day to experience any type of negative impact of pesticides. Um….we don’t know about your family, but no matter how much we love strawberries, we are NOT eating 1500 of them in a week, let alone in one day!
- Pesticide Residue is NOT a Real Concern
The USDA released a 2014 report that looked at this exact problem and found that more than 99 percent of all produce had residue levels FAR below safety levels set by the Environmental Protection Agency. So while the EWG did find pesticide residue on produce, the levels are so low that they don’t make a difference. This is fear mongering on the part of the EWG, nothing more.
- Organic or Conventional – Both use Pesticides
Many people mistakenly believe that organic means NO pesticide use, and the organic produce industry has done nothing to dispel this belief. The fact is, both organic and conventional farming methods use pesticides. Yes, organic farmers use pesticides, some of which are more dangerous than synthetic pesticides. Conventional farmers must follow strict rules from the EPA, which tell them how many days must pass between the time that the last pesticide is applied and when they can harvest their crop. This ensures that there is a minimal amount of residue present on your food.
- America’s Food Production is Safe
The EWG suggests that governmental agencies are lax in their oversight of pesticides, their usage, as well as being too quick to approve new pesticides. The truth is that the EPA often takes years to approve new pesticides. Every single pesticide is tested and reviewed periodically to ensure food safety.
You do not have to avoid any produce! Everyone can benefit from the healthy goodness of fruits and vegetables. Whether you choose organic or conventional, no one can deny that eating more produce is something everyone benefits from, so don’t let this “dirty dozen” list scare you away from eating certain foods if you can’t find “organic” versions.
Eat more fresh produce from Mother Nature and don’t let the naysayers make you turn away from the earth’s bounty.