If you’re a healthy eater, your plate probably consists of a wide variety of fruits and vegetables; the U.S. Department of Agriculture recommends at least five servings of fruits and veggies a day for the average adult. However, it’s not just what makes up your dinner, but also what’s on your dinner, that determines its health value. Unfortunately, unless you buy organic-only produce, your fruits and veggies most likely contain pesticides.
What exactly are pesticides, and what are the consequences of eating them?
According to the Center for Ecogenetics and Environmental Health, pesticides are chemical or biological agents used widely on produce in the United States. Most commonly, acutely toxic organophosphate (OP) pesticides are sprayed on crops to protect against insects, weeds and infections. Eating produce that was exposed to pesticides might result in pesticide poisoning, a nasty condition whose symptoms include nausea, abdominal cramps, diarrhea, dizziness and confusion.
Can you avoid them?
While pesticides are used widely and are hard to avoid, the Environmental Working Group (EWG) released The Shopper’s Guide to Pesticides in Produce, a handy list identifying the fruits and veggies most likely to be contaminated with pesticides. Here’s the most recent ‘dirty dozen’: the 12 foods you may be eating that might put you at risk for pesticide poisoning.
The ‘Dirty Dozen’
- Sweet bell peppers
Unfortunately, not everybody has access to, or the means for, organic produce. However, to lower the risk of pesticide poisoning, it’s recommended that you wash all your fruits and veggies thoroughly before consumption, organic or not. If you experience any of the symptoms of pesticide poisoning, be sure to see your doctor right away.