Pesticide Consumption and Concerns

Grocery store trips can seem like a daunting task when you’re concerned about what you’re consuming. In today’s world, you have to worry about every label, ingredient, brand, and even packaging. One main component in our produce most people are becoming aware of, is pesticides. The Center of Ecogenetics and Environmental Health states, “Pesticides are chemical or biological agents that are used to protect crops from insects, weeds, and infections. Acutely toxic organophosphate (OP) pesticides are widely used in the United States”.’s%20Dirty%20Dozen%20for%202020&text=Key%20findings%3A,kale%20showed%2018%20different%20pesticides.

Moving on, pesticides are found in our fruits, vegetables, clothes, bread, grass, carpets, etc. Since they are in our everyday lives, it does raise a red flag on if it is truly safe for humans to be intaking a chemical at such large quantities. Currently the FDA has approved the use and consumption of pesticides and deems it safe in small amounts, but this has not stop consumers from questioning what is being sprayed on their crops. 

In accordance to Time Magazine, “In the latest report about pesticide residues, the Environmental Working Group says that 70% of conventionally grown fruits and vegetables contain up to 230 different pesticides or their breakdown products” (Park 2013). With facts as such, It seems almost impossible to lower your intake, unless you live in a rural area of the country. Instead of packing your bag and getting out of town, there are other ways to decrease your pesticide consumption. Two lists to bring to the market are the “Dirty Dozen” and “Clean 15”. These are two lists that can help you decide on what produce to buy. Lastly, it can also show you how to veer away from pesticides if you’re not able to afford fully organic. 

The Clean 15 & Dirty Dozen


The Clean 15 is the list of produce that tends to be lowest in pesticide count.

These are the items generally “safe” to purchase conventional. The list of the twelve “dirtiest” or most contaminated produce items with pesticides are included as well.

The EWG also stated sweet peppers are also a high concern. These lists are updated each year to show the new results of the pesticide tests.

What is Organic?

Organic Food Label

Organic foods are free of all pesticides, herbicides, synthetic fertilizers, preservatives, artificial flavors, and artificial colors. By eating organic produce, you can dramatically reduce your exposure to pesticides. A study published by Environmental Research found that eating a 100% organic diet for over six days can cut your pesticide consumption by about 60%. to Civil, “Previous organic diet studies focused primarily on organophosphates, such as chlorpyrifos, an older class of pesticides with enough well-documented human toxicity results that some scientists recently called for a ban on all of them” (Wilcox 2019). 


Why are Pesticides a Concern?

To explain each pesticide would take a book’s worth of knowledge, but one main pesticide found in 91% of homes is named Chlorpyrifos. Chlorpyrifos is being studied for the impacts it may be causing on children’s thinking. Scientists believe that it has the potential to impair children’s developing brains (Harvard 2018). Researchers from Columbia University found the pesticide to harm children exposed at the womb. In the research found, the children had poor reflexes, higher risks for ADHD, and high risks for other developmental disorders. For instance, The University of Berkley’s team of researchers also found a similar conclusion creating reliability to the study.

To sum it up, the FDA continues to claim there’s not enough research if pesticides are a health risk at an “average” exposure basis. As more research appears, consumers will begin to understand more about how pesticides affect our body and mind. 

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