New labeling on foods tells you about fat content, sugar content and even additives, but what about pesticides? Even more so, what about fruits or vegetables that have no labels? I must have looked through hundreds of pages about this and that pesticide, so much that even a Gerry Butler marathon wouldn’t have put an end to my headache. Here is the result of some of the information I managed to decipher. A report conducted from 2002-2005 (some were updated in the 2007 summary report) listed produce with more and less pesticide residue. These are still within EU pesticide regulation. The produce in the Red column have more pesticides, Amber less and Green the least. MRL is the acronym for Maximum Residue Level. If you have a limited budget this information helps by indicating which produce would be better to buy organic and for which it is less important. You will notice that some fruits are listed in two columns. This is because local fruits generally contain less pesticide than imported ones.
|RED mostfrequently contain MRL||AMBER||GREEN lessfrequently contain the MRL|
|Beans (green & specialty||Carrots||Broccoli|
|Cherries||Cherries||Exotic fruits (passion fruit, pomegranate, etc)|
|*Citrus fruits||Cultivated mushrooms||Fennel|
|Courgettes / Zucchini||Lemons*||Kiwis|
|Dried fruit||Peaches||Star fruit|
* Products that are peeled may contain fewer contaminants.
Until an EU regulation bans pesticides or makes it so that only organic pesticides are used, the advocates against pesticides have recommended the following:
- Replace as much as possible of the produce in the first column with organic produce
- Ask your supermarket about their pesticide policy, some European supermarkets (mostly in Belgium, Germany, UK) have taken measures to reduce pesticides in/on their fruits and vegetables.
- Try to eat locally and seasonally, fruits and vegetables grown out of season have been shown to contain more pesticide residue than when in season.
- Peel and cook foods where possible
- Scrub hard foods such as apples, carrots etc.
- Rinse all foods before peeling
- Strip leafy vegetables like lettuce of the outer leaves and rinse well.