Safe levels of pesticides on produce

Conventionally grown produce has little difference in risk than organically grown produce.

Many people have been concerned about the levels of pesticides in produce for quite some time and have turned to organic produce, growing their own gardens, or in some cases, become skeptical of the benefits of fruits and vegetables in general. Some studies have shown very little difference in the risk of eating conventionally grown produce over organic produce. In fact, organic produce can carry some health risks depending on the fertilization, pest management and irrigation practices of the farmers. One recommendation by the FDA is to become better informed by getting to know local farmers at your farmers markets and asking them about their farming practices.

Many studies over time have consistently shown that the nutritional benefits of eating conventionally grown fruits and vegetables outweigh any risks of pesticide use. Michigan State University Extension says that some of the benefits include providing fiber and other essential vitamins and minerals, boosting our immune system, decreased risk of gastrointestinal disorders, better control of diabetes and bad cholesterol and a decrease in high blood pressure and risk of cancer. In addition, fruits and vegetables help prevent obesity, protect our vision and promote healthy aging.

According to the 1993 FDA Consumer, the FDA, EPA and USDA share responsibility in setting and enforcing guidelines for pesticide limits that will protect the public health. Testing of pesticides is rigorous and considers the risk to people of all ages, including infants. The FDA states that we can reduce to safe levels and often eliminate pesticide residues on produce by simply washing them under running water without soap. In most cases, 80 to 90 percent of pesticides are removed by the washing that occurs at packing plants. In addition, washing at home can remove pesticides even more. Wash most produce under cool, running water, using a brush on produce with tougher skins.

The website has many informative articles about pesticides on produce, along with a pesticide calculator that estimates how much produce you can eat and stay within safe levels. For example, the calculator shows that an adult man could eat 133,951 servings of celery without any harmful effects. Results can be obtained by entering different types of produce and different age stages and genders. To read more about pesticides and produce read Organic pesticide and produce from MSU Extension.

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