Chemicals and Pesticides in Fruits and Vegetables

Many scientists criticize the effects of residue found on the fruits and vegetables that we consume. Even if they are negligible, it is found that, by accumulating, these residues remain inside the body.

Pesticides in Fruits and Vegetables

Pesticides in Fruits and Vegetables: For good health, we should consume at least five to ten servings of fruits and vegetables every day, but what happens when these are full of insecticides and pesticides? Should we reduce our consumption? Or should we lecture more farmers about going organic? How do we come to a balance?

Pesticides have a very singular job: to kill certain species in order to protect others. Their first goal is therefore, among other things, to control insects, weeds, diseases, fungicides and bacteria. But in recent years, concerns have arisen about their effects on our health.

Many scientists criticize the effects of residue found on the fruits and vegetables that we consume. Even if they are negligible, it is found that, by accumulating, these residues remain inside the body. Although techniques for measuring have been developed, and prevention has increased, many researchers are not at all reassured.

Some research note a link between everyday chemicals and the increase of diseases like cancer and reduced fertility. Some argue that regulatory limits for pesticide residues do not protect people against diseases. This is because of the fact that it is the accumulation of doses over a lifetime is what causes ill effects, not the size of the individual deposits on each fruit or vegetable, which could well be infinitesimal.

There is scientific evidence that these molecules disrupt the reproductive system. They are not biodegradable, and thus accumulate in human fat and transferred from mother to child.

There is no question as to our reducing servings of fruits or vegetables, as they fill us with vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. However, one should be more circumspect in one’s purchases, and especially when preparing food.

Food safety Manual

How to Choose Fruit and Vegetables

To consume uncontaminated food, it is a good idea to make enquiries with the fruit store counter, or directly with local producers to ascertain the extent of their use of pesticides.

Wash thoroughly

  • To remove dust and pesticide residue, wash fruit and vegetables with water. Rub vigorously for at least twenty seconds. This avoids having to remove the peel, which houses minerals and vitamins. However, scrub it thoroughly to remove all residues. Use a knife, a brush, sponge or abrasive gloves.
  • Was fruits or vegetables that have bark, too? This prevents a bacterium found on the bark from contaminating the edible part when being eaten.
  • The instrument used to remove residues (such as the brush) must also be thoroughly washed. You can leave it in the dishwasher.
  • Do not use detergent on fruits and vegetables that have edible skins, because this might leave a residue in its own turn.
  • Wash everything: even the stem of the apple, which tends to accumulate more dirt.
  • Throw away damaged or bruised food. This is the place that bacteria can thrive!
  • With layered vegetables, such as lettuce and cabbage, throw away the outer leaves first, and rinse the rest with water.

The 12 Most Contaminated Fruits and Vegetables

  1. Fish
  2. Strawberries
  3. Apples
  4. Spinach
  5. Nectarines
  6. Celery
  7. Pears
  8. Cherry
  9. Grapes
  10. Lettuce
  11. Potato
  12. Bell Pepper

All of these harbor the possibility of exposure to at least 14 pesticides per day on average.

The 12 Least Contaminated Fruits and Vegetables

  1. Onions
  2. Avocado
  3. Sweet corn (frozen)
  4. Pineapple
  5. Mango
  6. Sweet peas (frozen)
  7. Asparagus
  8. Kiwi
  9. Banana
  10. Cabbage
  11. Broccoli
  12. Eggplant

These harbor the possibility of exposure to only two pesticides a day on average.

Source: Environmental Working Group

Chemicals and Children

The doses deemed “permitted” by agencies are established for adults, but this also means that children are equally exposed. According to research published in Environmental Health Perspectives, the concentration of pesticides found in the urine of children who ate fruits and veggies were six times lower than in those who ate conventional produce.

Also, since their consumption of fruits and vegetables is higher relative to their weight and their size as an adult, exposure to pesticides is greater too.

A Sip of Pesticide?

A Spanish study has revealed that many soft drinks from fruit contain high levels of pesticides. Since children are heavy drinkers of fruit juice, this should ring alarm bells. We must monitor the presence of pesticides into the bottom of our glasses!

Potential Hazards

Chronic poisoning is following us. The effects of pesticides on our body are many: respiratory issues, skin troubles, neurological problems, and so on. In the long term, it is suspected that the chemicals found in our body can be the cause of certain cancers, genetic diseases, disorders of reproduction or development, in addition to attacking our immune, endocrine and nervous systems.

And GM Food?

Since 2004, the number of GM food in the country has increased at a rate of 136%. However, the presence of genetically modified organisms in food remains a concern. What are they really? According to some experts, GM food can even be related to the increase in allergies and cancer rates. Transgenic plants may aggravate existing diseases. Among ecologists, there are fears of pesticides mutating, which, instead of resisting pests, kill unmodified plants


In 2004-2005, nearly 500 samples of fruits and vegetables products were analyzed: 33% of them revealed the presence of pesticides, of which 1.5% had concentrations above the allowable standards. But what consumers think?

Here is data from a survey by the Canadian Cancer Society:

  • 70% of people are concerned about the presence of residues on fruits and vegetables.
  • Nearly 50% of them believe that pesticides should be used with caution.
  • 55% feel they are not informed enough.
  • 8 out of 10 carefully wash all fruits and vegetables.
  • 24% say they buy products that have not been exposed to chemicals whenever they can.
  • 74% would support stricter regulations to reduce the initial use of pesticides in food production.

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