Cherokee Nation dietician weighs in on 2018 Dirty Dozen list

10/09/2018 08:00 AM
Main Cherokee Phoenix
The Environmental Working Group’s annual Dirty Dozen list, which ranks pesticide contaminations on popular fruits and vegetables, includes spinach, pears and cherries. MARK DREADFULWATER/CHEROKEE PHOENIX
TAHLEQUAH – Apples, tomatoes and pears, oh my. Those are just three of the fruits and vegetables on the Environmental Working Group’s annual Dirty Dozen list, which ranks pesticide contaminations on popular fruits and vegetables.

Since 2004, the organization dedicated to empowering people to live healthier lives through research and education, has updated its list in the Shopper’s Guide to Pesticides in Produce. According to, “the guide is based on the results of more than 38,000 samples of produce tested by the U.S. Department of Agriculture and Food and Drug Administration.”

The EWG’s 2018 Dirty Dozen list contains:

Strawberries: One sample contained 22 pesticide residues while one-third of all conventional samples contained 10 pesticides or more.

Spinach: About 97 percent of conventional samples contained pesticide residues and had a relatively high concentration of the neurotoxic insecticide, permethrin.

Nectarines: About 94 percent of samples contained two or more pesticides while one sample of conventionally grown nectarines contained 15 pesticide residues.

Apples: About 90 percent of conventional apples had detectable pesticide residues while 80 percent tested contained diphenylamine, a pesticide.

Grapes: Tests show grapes contained an average of five pesticide residues while more than 96 percent of conventional samples tested positive for pesticide residues.

Peaches: More than 99 percent of conventional peaches had detectable pesticide residues with an average of four pesticides detected.

Cherries: An average of five pesticides were detected on conventional samples with 30 percent of samples containing iprodione, a pesticide that may cause cancer.

Pears: Tested pears had several pesticides in high concentrations, including insecticides and fungicides, and more thank half of conventionally grown pears had residues of five or more pesticides.

Tomatoes: On the average conventionally grown tomato, about four pesticides were detected and one sample contained 15 different pesticides and breakdown products.

Celery: More than 95 percent of tested conventionally grow celery were positive for pesticides with a maximum of 13 pesticides detected.

Potatoes: Conventional potatoes had more pesticide residues by weight than any other crop, with chlorpropham making up the bulk of detected pesticides.

Sweet Bell Peppers: About 90 percent of conventional sweet bell peppers tested contained pesticide residues.

Cherokee Nation clinical dietician Tonya Swim said though evidence lacks to support the method the EWB uses to rank commodities and pesticides risks, there are ways to reduce and eliminate residue on produce.

“Wash, wash, wash. You can wash in warm water and scrub, with a brush when appropriate. With leafy vegetables like lettuce and cabbage you can remove the outer layer leaves and throw them away before washing. Another method is to wash fruit and berries in a mix of vinegar and water at a 1-to-3 ratio. You can use apple cider or white vinegar. This will also help extend their storage life,” she said.

Swim said the Environmental Protection Agency limits pesticide use for produce growers that are at levels below that could impact one’s health. She said the website has a pesticide residue calculator showing how many servings of different fruit and vegetables a person would have to eat before reaching the highest pesticide residue recorded by the USDA.

“For example, as a female I could eat 850 servings of apple in one day without any effect even if those apples had the highest pesticide residue recorded for apples by the USDA,” she said.

She said for a child eating cherries, they would have to eat 476 servings of cherries in one day.

Swim said though pesticide information can vary, she encourages the intake of fruits and vegetables because they play a major role in health for both disease prevention and control.

“They are an important source of potassium, dietary fiber, vitamins A and C, zinc, and folate. Having a diet high in fruits and vegetables helps lower ones chance of developing a chronic health condition such as heart disease or diabetes and can help reduce blood pressure levels in persons with hypertension or even prevent certain types of cancers,” she said.
About the Author • 918-772-4223
Lindsey Bark grew up and resides in the Tagg Flats community in Delaware County. She graduated from Northeastern State University in 2012 with a bachelor’s degree in mass communication, emphasizing in journalism. She started working for the Cherokee Phoenix in 2016. Working for the Cherokee Phoenix, Lindsey hopes to ...


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