Econundrum: 12 Most Pesticide-Laden Fruits and Veggies

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At my local farmer’s market, organic avocados cost as much as $2 a pop. Yet I can sometimes find the conventional version at the supermarket for half that (and some of the cheap ones are even grown right here in California). Considering my homemade guacamole addiction, I’d quickly bankrupt myself buying only organic avocadoes, so I usually go for the cheapos at the grocery store. My reasoning: You don’t even eat the skin of the avocado, so presumably, for avocados and other peeled produce, pesticides aren’t a problem. Right?

Not always. Some fruits’ and vegetables’ thick skins do protect the edible part from chemicals. But not all. The Environmental Working Group recently analyzed samples of 47 common produce items in the state that they’re usually eaten (i.e., avocados were peeled, apples washed with water, etc.) then ranked them according to the amount and variety of pesticides the researchers found. Good news for my guac addiction: As I suspected, peeled avocadoes contain a small amount of pesticides, ranking 46th on the list. But bananas come in at a surprisingly high 27, and cucumbers at 19. “It’s really hard to use your intuition to figure out what’s going to have high pesticide loads,” says EWG spokesperson Amy Rosenthal. “Skin is something to take into account, but it doesn’t always make a huge difference.”

More findings: Peaches, apples, and sweet bell peppers were the three most pesticide-laden crops tested, while frozen sweet corn, avocado, and onion were least contaminated. The EWG team estimates you can lower your pesticide intake by as much as 80 percent if you steer clear of the top 12.

In descending order, the EWG’s 12 most contaminated fruits and vegetables:

1. Peaches

2. Apples

3. Sweet bell peppers

4. Celery

5. Nectarines

6. Strawberries

7. Cherries

8. Kale

9. Lettuce

10. Grapes (imported)

11. Carrots

12. Pears

For the full list of all 47 fruits and veggies, go here.

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SIX TRUTHS

Reclaiming power from those who abuse it often starts with telling the truth. And in "This Is How Authoritarians Get Defeated," MoJo's Monika Bauerlein unpacks six truths to remember during the homestretch of an election where democracy, truth, and decency are on the line.

Truth #1: The chaos is the point.

Truth #2: Team Reality is bigger than it seems.

Truth #3: Facebook owns this.

Truth #4: When we go to work, we're in the fight.

Truth #5: It's about minority rule.

Truth #6: The only thing that can save us is…us.

Please take a moment to see how all these truths add up, because what happens in the weeks and months ahead will reverberate for at least a generation and we better be prepared.

And if you think journalism like Mother Jones'—that calls it like it is, that will never acquiesce to power, that looks where others don't—can help guide us through this historic, high-stakes moment, and you're able to right now, please help us reach our $350,000 goal by October 31 with a donation today. It's all hands on deck for democracy.

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