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Blueberries and Green Beans Now in the Dirty Dozen

Blueberries and green beans have taken the top two spots on EWGs list of produce most contaminated with pesticides.

Blueberries and green beans have joined the dirty dozen! 

What is the Dirty Dozen? 

The dirty dozen is a list, put out by the Environmental Working Group, of non-organic produce with the highest amounts of pesticides. The researchers at the US Department of Agriculture tested 46,569 samples of 46 types of fruits and vegetables and examined them for 251 different pesticides. The fruits and vegetables are cleaned, peeled, and scrubbed, as one would at home, and then tested. 

Last year, 2022, strawberries and spinach topped the Dirty Dozen list, but this year it’s blueberries and green beans. Researchers found 84 different pesticides on green beans and 54 on blueberries, some of which have been banned in the US or Europe due to their adverse effects on public health. 

What are the dangers? 

Several of the pesticides found on non-organic blueberries include known carcinogens, that is cancer-causing agents, and some possible hormone disruptors, as well as a few neurotoxins. They have also “been linked to numerous reproductive and developmental problems in both men and women. Sperm abnormalities, decreased fertility, birth defects and neurobehavioral issues are all examples of the devastating effects pesticides can have on humans who consume them. Simozine, dimethoate, and linuron are just a few of the pesticides known to have negative reproductive or developmental effects.” 

The number one pesticide found on non-organic green beans can cause cancer, disrupt hormones, and is a neurotoxin all in one.  

What can I do? 

Switch to organic if you can. The nutritional value of blueberries and green beans is no different when bought from organic sources, however, the amount of pesticides is reduced greatly or there is no pesticide residue at all. 

If organic is out of your price range or difficult to find in your area, make sure to wash your fruits and vegetables thoroughly before eating them. Wash your hands with soap and warm water for at least 20 seconds before and after touching fresh produce, rinse all produce before cutting or peeling, scrub heartier produce with a clean produce brush, dry with a clean cloth or paper towel, and, when possible, peel your produce.  

Conclusion 

While the number of pesticides found on our fruits and vegetables may be alarming, there are a few positive takeaways. Many people either haven’t heard of the “dirty dozen” list or aren’t aware of the dangers associated with certain pesticides. By understanding what produce has a higher chance for pesticide contamination and being aware of how to handle these foods in the home, we can make educated decisions on what our families eat. Additionally, looking for organic labels when grocery shopping will ensure less overall consumption of pesticides. So by taking necessary precautions and going organic where possible, we can safeguard ourselves and our families against the harmful effects of pesticides. 

Sources: 

LaMotte, S. (2023, March 15). Blueberries have joined green beans in this year’s dirty dozen list. CNN. Retrieved March 20, 2023, from https://www.cnn.com/2023/03/15/health/dirty-dozen-produce-pesticides-2023-wellness/index.html  

Pesticide Action Network. (n.d.). Pesticides on Green Beans. What’s on my food? Retrieved March 20, 2023, from https://www.whatsonmyfood.org/food.jsp?food=GB  

Pesticide Action Network. (n.d.). Pesticides on Blueberries. What’s on my food? Retrieved March 20, 2023, from https://www.whatsonmyfood.org/food.jsp?food=BB  

Wall, A. (2022, January 25). The dangers of pesticides on blueberries. Home Guide. Retrieved March 20, 2023, from https://homeguides.sfgate.com/dangers-pesticides-blueberries-87335.html 

Erin McGreal RN, BSN

Upper Echelon Medical in Fullerton, Orange County, East LA, and Inland Empire, California, provides comprehensive primary care services to patients of all ages living and working in the local community.
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