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An editorial column from the Missouri Farm Bureau Federation,
Commentary may be used as an op-ed piece or letter to the editor.


Don’t Fear Your Fruits and Vegetables

BY ERIC BOHL

Don’t Fear Your Fruits and Vegetables

We all want to eat healthy food and keep our children safe from toxic substances, and simple lists and clean-versus-dirty shopping guides appeal to some consumers. But context matters. Scientists thoroughly test thousands of substances, from water to arsenic, to determine how much of them would be toxic to humans. Some level of every substance is toxic to humans, but conversely, the human body can safely process a trace amount of almost anything without any risk to health.

In April, the Environmental Working Group (EWG), a nongovernmental organization dedicated to promotion of organic-only production methods, released its 25th annual “Dirty Dozen” list. This report utilizes U.S. Department of Agriculture data to identify the 12 fruits and vegetables that tested highest in pesticide residue. Regardless of the actual levels found, the EWG labels the top 12 each year as “dirty” foods and encourages consumers to avoid eating conventionally-grown versions of those crops.

For this year, the EWG report identified strawberries, spinach, nectarines, apples, grapes, peaches, cherries, pears, tomatoes, celery, potatoes and sweet bell peppers for its “dirty” list. But just how “dirty” are these foods?

According to data from the U.S. Environmental Protection Service (EPA), a man could consume 5,080 large strawberries in one day without any effect, even if the strawberries had the highest residue recorded for strawberries by USDA. Strawberries are delicious, but it would be pretty tough to eat that many. For celery, the safe level for a man is 27,451 servings in a day. That’s a lot of celery. A child could consume 310 servings of spinach in a day without any adverse effect. How many kids do you know who do that?

The true problem with the “Dirty Dozen” marketing ploy is that a peer reviewed study showed that exposure to its messaging makes low-income consumers less likely to purchase ANY produce, either organically or conventionally grown. With only one in ten Americans currently eating enough fruits and vegetables, this marketing does far more harm than good, especially to lower-income Americans.

The bottom line is, eating more fruits and vegetables of any kind is far more beneficial to your diet than the potential harm of any miniscule residue they may carry – most of which washes off with a simple rinse anyway. Listen to your mom and eat your fruits and veggies. And remember that food decisions should be made with facts, not fear.


Eric Bohl, of Columbia, Mo., is director of public affairs for Missouri Farm Bureau, the state's largest farm organization.

An editorial column from the Missouri Farm Bureau Federation, Commentary may be used as an op-ed piece or letter to the editor.

 
COMMENTARY ARCHIVES


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06-29-2017 - Come and Get It!

06-14-2017 - Meet Someone

04-13-2017 - A Story to Remember

03-15-2017 - Paying it Forward

03-01-2017 - The Rural-Urban Divide

12-29-2016 - Ringing in Reform

12-08-2016 - A System That Works

11-03-2016 - Farmers' Almanac Finds

10-27-2016 - I Will Vote

09-29-2016 - How Bout Them Apples

09-22-2016 - Asterisks

09-08-2016 - Practicing Patience

07-21-2016 - Meet me at the Fair

07-07-2016 - GROW

05-26-2016 - Taps

05-20-2016 - A Seat at the Table

05-12-2016 - Nothing Beats a Burger

03-17-2016 - Busy People

02-25-2016 - A Dog in the Manger

02-18-2016 - Me and My Kayak

01-28-2016 - More or Less Winter

01-21-2016 - The Time for Thanks

12-30-2015 - Resolutions of Reform

12-23-2015 - Beyond Blessed

12-17-2015 - The Farmer's Tale

12-03-2015 - 'Tis the Season

12-01-2015 - What matters most

11-05-2015 - Food is simple

10-15-2015 - What's with the Weeds?

10-01-2015 - Fall Flavor Favorite

09-24-2015 - Why Tour Farms?

09-10-2015 - Bring the Kids

08-13-2015 - Farm Kids and the Fair

08-06-2015 - Rock Stars

07-30-2015 - Gone, but not for good

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07-09-2015 - Behind the Wheel

06-25-2015 - A State of Discovery

06-10-2015 - Pickup Trucks

05-29-2015 - Real Deal Dairy

05-14-2015 - Decoration Day

04-30-2015 - Who's Driving

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04-10-2015 - Differing Definitions

04-02-2015 - Boots on the Ground

03-19-2015 - Who Will Speak Up?

02-12-2015 - The HITs Keep Coming

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01-07-2015 - Food Fandom

12-18-2014 - The Farmer's Tale

11-13-2014 - If It Ain't Broke

11-06-2014 - Scars on their Souls

10-30-2014 - A Wish for Winter

10-16-2014 - Timing is Everything

10-02-2014 - Food Prices Fluctuate

07-24-2014 - Lessons from the Past

07-03-2014 - Fire up the Grill!

06-26-2014 - Watching Tomatoes Grow

06-12-2014 - Say Yes

05-29-2014 - Join the Chorus

03-20-2014 - Small Steps on Ag Day

03-06-2014 - The First Green Pop

02-20-2014 - Good Storytellers

01-23-2014 - Costly Miscalculations

01-16-2014 - Resilience and Resolve

01-09-2014 - Cheerios and GMOs

12-26-2013 - New Year Focus

11-26-2013 - Right Words

11-14-2013 - Mama's Sofa

11-08-2013 - Paying Our Own Way

10-25-2013 - No Easy Fix

10-10-2013 - A Farmer's Sacrifice

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05-30-2013 - Uncertainty is Certain

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04-18-2013 - City Cousins

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12-01-2010 - A Tale of Two Farmers

11-04-2010 - Scars on Their Souls

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05-13-2010 - Farmland Restoration

04-15-2010 - God Bless You 14 Times

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02-05-2010 - Thank A Farmer

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