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The New Dirty Dozen

The Environmental Working Group this week announced its 2016 Shopper’s Guide to Pesticides in Produceā„¢. It’s something I have always read and followed. Basically, the list details the fruits and vegetables with the highest amounts of pesticide residue. This year, strawberries top the list. Considering the average American eats about eight pounds of strawberries every year, this is a big deal.

Why should you worry about pesticide residue? I’ll let the EWG explain:

Nearly all strawberry samples — 98 percent — tested by federal officials had detectable pesticide residues. Forty percent had residues of 10 or more pesticides and some had residues of 17 different pesticides. Some of the chemicals detected on strawberries are relatively benign, but others are linked to cancer, reproductive and developmental damage, hormone disruption and neurological problems.”

Scary stuff. For example, one study found that teenagers exposed to pesticides may end up with abnormal sperm. Another meta study of 21 studies found that pesticide exposure is associated with an increase risk of developing diabetes. Yet another study found that pesticides boost the risk of Parkinson’s disease. Not to mention the fact that it’s been linked to endometriosis, pediatric cancers and decreased cognitive function and behavioral problems in kids and a host of other problems.

So what do you do? Try sticking with organic for anything that’s on the EWG’s Dirty Dozen list. It’s a good start, and — for the most part — organic purchased in season isn’t usually much more expensive. Another big thing: DON’T spray Round-Up or other pesticides in your home or garden. Kids play and can accidentally ingest the chemicals. Finally, make sure everyone takes their shoes off when they come in the house to minimize chemicals literally walking into your home.

Are pesticides something you worry about? How do you avoid contact with your family? I’d like to know.

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