Gardening Articles: Edibles :: Vegetables

The Perils of Prenatal Pesticide Exposure

by Susan Littlefield


More and more evidence is accumulating on the harmful effects of pesticides, herbicides, and other chemical hazards, especially on the health and development of our children. Three recently published studies have shown a link between prenatal exposure to organophosphate pesticides and lowered IQ in children between the ages of six and nine. One of the primary means of exposure is through pesticide residues on food.

Buying organically grown fruits and vegetables is one way to help limit exposure, but for some families, buying all organic may present a considerable financial burden. In an effort to help folks make the safest, most economical choices when it comes to buying produce, the Environmental Working Group (EWG) has compiled a list of its Dirty Dozen, the twelve kinds of fruits and vegetables that are most likely to have the highest pesticide residues and the ones toward which they suggest putting your dollars first for organically grown choices. They also list the Clean 15, the produce least likely to contain residues and therefore safer to purchase when conventionally grown.

But there is another great way to get safe produce economically and that is to grow your own. Among the fruits and veggies that made the Dirty Dozen list are some great choices for growing in the home garden, including bell peppers, spinach, kale, and potatoes, along with strawberries and blueberries. When you raise them yourself, you'll know that these fruits and vegetables are not only as fresh and nutritious as possible, but that they are free of any harmful residues as well.

To download the EWG's Shoppers Guide to Pesticides, go: Environmental Working Group.

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