Do I buy organic or conventional? The Environmental Working Group has released its 2017 'Dirty Dozen' list to reveal the fruits + vegetables that have the highest amount of pesticide residue.
11. Sweet bell pepper
The 'Dirty Dozen' list helps consumers decide which fruits and vegetables are worth buying organic. Fruits like strawberries which have no protective outer peel and grow directly on the ground will always have high amounts of pesticide residue. Avocados, corn and bananas have peels or husks which shield produce flesh from pesticides.
In addition to buying organic for our health, there are many environmental benefits for supporting the organic industry to consider. Pesticides leach the soil and remain in groundwater and soil for decades, posing a health risk to communities living near fields treated with pesticides, our water and aquatic life.
It is definitely more challenging to purchase local, in season fruits year-round in Canada however, when possible, shop local and in-season. Visit your local farmers market and ask the growers if they use natural or synthetic pesticides.something else: how the produce was grown.
When shopping in stores, scan the label and PLU number on produce to distinguish whether it was genetically modified, organically grown or produced with chemical fertilizers, fungicides, or herbicides.
- If there are only four numbers in the PLU code, the produce was grown conventionally/traditionally with the use of pesticides. Bananas are 4011.
- If there are five numbers in the PLU code starting with 8, the item is a genetically modified fruit or vegetable. Genetically modified or genetically engineered fruits and vegetables are produced from organisms that have had changes introduced into their DNA using the methods of genetic engineering as opposed to traditional cross breeding. A genetically engineered (GE or GMO) banana is 84011.
- If there are five numbers in the PLU code starting with 9, the produce was grown organically and is not genetically modified. An organic banana is 94011.