Tuesday, February 22, 2011

The 12 Dirtiest Fruits and Vegetables (& the 15 Cleanest, too!)

So if you're anything like me, you LOOOOOOVVVVVVVVEEEE fruit.  It's so good, right?  And not just one specific type of fruit, mostly any kind of fruit is tasty.  And we've all heard about how dirty food is and what the food industry does to your food before you actually eat it.  So here are the dirty dozen from yahoo.com and, because I don't want to turn you away from fruits, I'll give you the link to the clean fifteen.

P.S.- YahooHealth.com says to buy organic.  "It's worth it."

Dirty Dozen:

1. Celery
          Due to peak consumer demand around Thanksgiving and Christmas, 75% of the crop is grown during the fall and winter, when rain and wind promote the growth of bacteria and fungal diseases. Because we eat the entire stalk, it must be sprayed repeatedly to ward off pests.

2. Peaches
          Sweet and succulent, peaches can be just as alluring to insects as to people. Farmers may spray peaches every week or two from bloom to harvest—and peach fuzz can trap pesticides.

3. Strawberries
          Strawberries are not only sweet and juicy but also delicate and prone to disease, including fungal attacks that can turn them to mush during transit and storage. "With apples and peaches, a lot of spraying is cosmetic to get blemish-free fruits," says Richard Wiles, senior vice president for policy at EWG. "With berries, you're just trying to get them across the finish line into the store before they go bad."

4. Apples
          Sweet-smelling and delicious, apples are susceptible to more than 30 insects and at least 10 diseases. And fungicides and other chemicals are added after picking to prevent tiny blemishes that can accumulate during storage of up to 9 months.
5. Blueberries
          Blueberries are new on the Dirty Dozen list—possibly because the USDA began testing them only 3 years ago, after large increases in production. The berries are targets for insects such as blueberry maggots and bagworms.
6. Nectarines
          Nectarines differ from peaches only in the absence of fuzz—a trait that likely arose as a natural mutation of a peach tree—so it's no wonder they're susceptible to many of the same pests, including oriental fruit moths and peach twig borers. Thanks to their waxy skin, they don't retain as many pesticides as peaches. On the other hand, they are more vulnerable to rot and scarring.

7. Bell Peppers
          Unlike cruciferous vegetables such as broccoli, sweet bell peppers (which are technically fruits) have no bitter compounds to serve as built-in insect repellants. They even lack the fiery taste of their cousins, chili peppers. And the creases at their crowns may provide nooks for pesticides to accumulate.

8. Spinach
          Spinach is a mere leaf that's crunched by a variety of insects, including grasshoppers. In addition, says Wiles, "spinach tends to pull persistent DDT residues out of the soil and into the leaf." These chemicals remain in the earth decades after they were banned.
9. Kale
          The outer leaves are not removed before sale, so any amount of damage will make it unmarketable. Even natural enemies of the pests that feed on kale can be considered contaminants in harvested produce, so farmers spray for all bugs, including the "good" ones.
10. Cherries
          Because cherries are a naked fruit—without peel or protection—they're vulnerable to pests such as the western cherry fruit fly. If just one of its maggots is found in a shipment, the entire load of fruit must be dumped, according to quarantine regulations, so growers spray out of fear of losing their crops.
11. Potatoes
           New to the list, America's number one vegetable is sprayed 5 or more times throughout the growing season to protect against various pests—and to ensure a crop of uniform shape and size for fast-food outlets and potato chip producers. After harvesting, another round of spraying occurs in the packing shed to ward off molds and sprouting.
12. Imported Grapes
          During their long transit from the southern hemisphere, imported grapes are susceptible to Botrytis cinerea rot, which causes the fruits to split and leak. To prevent that, farmers spray aggressively with fungicides. (Domestic table grapes do not need the same spraying because most are grown in the dry desert climate of Southern California, where botrytis does not thrive.)


So the next time you see that gorgeous looking apple in the store, grab it and eat it.  But wash it first.  Then you'll be golden.

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