Report Uncovers High Pesticide Levels in Imported Fresh and Frozen Strawberries

Joe Parker

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A recent investigation by Consumer Reports, a nonprofit consumer advocacy organization, found that some fresh, frozen, and canned nonorganic fruits and vegetables are contaminated with concerning levels of pesticides. Imported and domestic green beans also tested high for pesticides, even samples that were labeled organic, making them “the only organic food we found with significant levels of pesticides,” according to James Rogers, director of food safety research and testing at Consumer Reports.

The Food Industry Association, however, assured consumers that “all pesticides go through an extensive review process by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to ensure they are safe for human consumption and to establish tolerances, the maximum residue limit permitted on or in a food.”

The US Food and Drug Administration also has a responsibility in enforcing these tolerances, including imported produce. The Alliance for Food and Farming told CNN via email that farmers prioritize safety as their families are often their first consumers. They added that decades of government data prove the safety of fruits and vegetables while nutritional studies emphasize the health benefits of eating conventionally-grown produce.

Tips for Reducing Pesticide Exposure

1. Be Selective: Shop from Low-Pesticide Choices

Depending on the type of produce you’re shopping for, pesticide levels can vary significantly. When buying vegetables and fruit, opt for low-pesticide alternatives whenever possible. Some of these include avocados, asparagus, broccoli, cabbage, cantaloupe, cauliflower, eggplant, grapefruit, honeydew melon, kiwi, mangoes, onions, papayas, pineapples, sweet corn, sweet peas (frozen), and sweet potatoes.

2. Choose Seasonal Produce

Purchasing produce when it is in season not only helps reduce your exposure to pesticides, it also ensures you’re getting the freshest and most flavorful fruits and vegetables available. In addition, seasonal produce often tends to be more affordable.

3. Go Local: Support Farmers and Farmer’s Markets

Buying local fruits and vegetables at a farmer’s market allows you to have a direct connection with the farmer who grew the food. This way, you can inquire about their farming practices and pesticide use while supporting a local community member. Moreover, locally-grown produce usually has fewer chemicals because it doesn’t travel long distances and requires less preservation techniques.

4. Wash Your Produce Thoroughly

While washing produce won’t remove all traces of pesticides, it can help reduce your exposure. Simply rinsing your fruits and vegetables under running water can eliminate up to 80% of pesticide residues. You can also consider using a vegetable brush to scrub the surface of items with tougher skins or peeling outer layers if possible, though keep in mind that doing so might lower the nutritional content.

5. Grow Your Own Fruits and Vegetables

If you have space for a garden or even a few containers on a patio, growing your own fruits and vegetables can be an effective way to avoid pesticides entirely. This will allow you to control what goes into your soil and how pests are managed. Not only does this method reduce pesticide exposure, but it also brings added benefits such as outdoor exercise and cost savings.

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6. Eat a Varied Diet

One way to minimize the potential risks associated with consuming contaminated produce is to eat a varied diet. By consuming a diverse range of fruits and vegetables, you can help limit your exposure to any single type of pesticide residue. A balanced diet also ensures that you obtain a broad range of nutrients essential for good health.

When in Doubt: Choose Organic

Going organic is a surefire way to reduce your exposure to pesticides on produce. According to the Environmental Working Group (EWG), people who eat organic produce consume fewer pesticides than those who eat conventionally-grown varieties. Moreover, research has shown that organically-farmed food tends to be more nutritious due to factors such as healthier soil and lower use of synthetic chemicals during production.

A Healthy Life Starts with Conscious Choices

Taking steps to avoid pesticide exposure when buying fruits and vegetables contributes to your long-term health and wellbeing. Stay informed, make thoughtful choices, and enjoy the many benefits of a plant-based diet for years to come!

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