According to the CDC, in its Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, only 32.5% of adults in the U.S. ate fruit two or more times daily in 2009, and just over a quarter of Americans, 26.3%, ate vegetables three or more times per day.
“The findings underscore the need for interventions at national, state, and community levels, across multiple settings,” the CDC says in the news report. “A diet high in fruits and vegetables can reduce the risk for many leading causes of death.”
Organic: What’s The Cost of Health?
Eating more fruits and veggies is crucial to a healthier body – but there’s more to it than just picking up a bag of apples at your local store. For example, according to the Food and Drug Administration, more pesticides (36, to be exact) are found on apples than on any other fruit or vegetable. In one test, as many as seven chemicals were detected on a single apple. Organic produce truly is the healthier option.
Yes, going organic tends to be more expensive, but think of it this way: Either you can invest in more organic produce, or you can deal with the lofty medical costs of certain diseases and conditions, namely cancer, that many popular produce chemicals have been proven to contribute to?
Ideally, yes, it’d be great if 100% of the food you ate was organic. But since that’s just not an option for many people, we’ve listed below the top fruits and vegetables with the dirtiest reputations, as well as steps to take to better protect yourself against regular produce, if going organic just isn’t an option at all:
Cantaloupes often contain five of the longest-lasting chemicals, one of which is dieldrin, an exceedingly toxic and carcinogenic insecticide. Though it was banned in 1974, residues still persist in soils and are taken up through the cantaloupe’s roots and absorbed into the edible portion.
If you can’t go organic: Thoroughly wash the outside of the melon, since a knife can drag exterior residues through the flesh as you slice it.
In a survey of 42 common vegetables, cucumbers were ranked second in cancer risk and 12th in “most contaminated food” by the Environmental Working Group, a respected public-interest group.
If you can’t go organic: Peel the cucumbers, since the waxes used to make the skin shiny also tend to hold chemicals.
Because grapes ripen quickly, tend to mold, and attract insects, growers hit them with multiple applications of various chemicals. The worst are Chilean grapes, which are treated with as many as 17 of them. (Ninety percent of the grapes eaten in the United States from January to April are Chilean.)