Unfortunately so much of the fresh produce we eat isn't subject to the growing conditions we'd like. Toxic chemicals, such as fertilisers, sewage sludge, pesticides and herbicides can be used during the growing process. Pesticide use is widespread in conventionally grown produce and certain fruit and vegetables are found to have particularly high levels of pesticide residue.
Even washing your fruit and veggies before eating won't get rid of all traces of pesticide residue. With ADHD, fertility problems, autoimmune issues, thyroid problems and certain cancers possibly linked to intake of pesticide residue, it's definitely something to be avoided.
Of course, if we could we'd all grow our own produce, or at the very least buy everything organic… but in the real world it's not always possible. Every year pesticide residue levels are meausres and an updated Clean 15 and Dirty Dozen list is published. The Dirty Dozen list (which has actually now grown to 18 items!) is the high pesticide level produce – and the Clean 15 is the produce with the lowest levels of pesticides. If you have to buy non-organic, try to avoid the Dirty Dozen and pick from the Clean 15 list.
And of course, if you're buying imported produce, remember the country of origin may have a completely different pesticide regime – so try to buy local!
Here's the updated lists:
If you're on a tight budget, I can't recommend farmers markets enough – go at the end of the day and you should get some good deals on local, organic produce. Better still, start a small veggie patch – that way you'll know exactly what you're eating.