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Even if you can't buy organic, you can still lower your exposure to chemical pesticides by using the Shopper's Guide to Pesticides in Produce.

The Environmental Working Group (EWG) is a non-profit environmental research group   (   Based on the results of nearly 43,000 tests for pesticides on produce, the EWG developed the Shopper's Guide to Pesticides in Produce.   The guide lists the 12 most contaminated fruits and vegetables as well as the 12 most "consistently clean" items.    Peaches and apples topped the list of most contaminated items.   Others in this list included perennial favorites such as grapes, strawberries and lettuce.   The "clean" list includes onions, avocados, asparagus and bananas.

Eating from the 12 most contaminated fruits and vegetables will expose a person to approximately 15 pesticides a day. Eating the 12 least contaminated will expose a person to fewer than two pesticides a day. There is a growing scientific consensus that small doses of pesticides can adversely affect people, especially during vulnerable periods of fetal development and childhood when exposures can have long lasting effects. Because the toxic effects of pesticides are worrisome and not well understood, smart consumers should minimize exposure to pesticides whenever possible.

While washing and rinsing fresh produce can reduce levels of some pesticides, it does not eliminate them. Peeling also reduces exposure, but valuable nutrients contained in the skins are lost. The best option is to eat a varied diet, wash all produce, and choose organic when possible to reduce exposure to potentially harmful chemicals.

With recent scares about bacterial contamination making more consumers concerned about the sources of their food, this new guide provides an excellent opportunity to make more educated choices about where to purchase their produce.

If your local supermarket carries a limited selection of organic produce, try shopping at local Farmer's Markets (which also helps support local farmers and keep them solvent so there are alternatives to big grocery chains.)   Organic farmers meet all the sanitation standards required of conventional growers and, in many cases are obligated to meet even tighter restrictions than conventional fruit and vegetable growers.   Also smaller, more eco minded markets like Whole Foods and Trader Joe's carry a variety of organic foods available.

To download a copy of the free Shopper's guide go to

And to read more about recent research on organic food and pesticides go to