We are often told that fruit is one of the healthiest foods you can eat. However, choosing the wrong fruits can actually have a negative impact on your health. While fruits are full of fiber and vitamins, they can also be full of cancer-causing pesticides.
A new report shows an alarming amount of pesticides are making their way into the conventionally grown strawberries sold in Swiss supermarkets. The study entailed testing samples of the fruit sold in supermarkets as well as the fruit and soil from strawberry farms situated in the Seeland region of Bern and Thurgau.
A total of 20 different pesticides were found, with fungicides being the most common. One sample had traces of 11 different pesticides. Twelve out of the 13 samples taken from supermarkets showed the presence of pesticides that are potentially carcinogenic, and eight of them had at least four different types of pesticides.
Only one of the non-organic samples taken from the supermarket actually met the standards for making baby food. While they all complied with the permitted pesticide limits, two of them had levels that could pose a health risk to kids who eat large amounts of strawberries.
ETH University Environmental Engineer Philippe Schenkel said: “The cocktail of pesticides found in the samples analysed shows once more that Swiss agriculture is not as close to nature as we pretend it is. Pesticides in strawberries can not be good for health. Small amounts eaten each day allow toxic substances to accumulate in our bodies. Eating only organically produced food, means we help both our health and the environment.”
It’s worth noting, however, that none of the organic strawberries were contaminated.
Strawberries in the U.S. just as bad
Unfortunately, this problem is not just limited to Switzerland. The news comes just two months after a report released by the Environmental Working Group found that strawberries had replaced apples as the fruits with the highest levels of pesticide residues. That report was based on an analysis of samples from more than 35,000 fruits and vegetables carried out by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). Other data released by the USDA showed that 98 percent of the strawberries tested contained some type of pesticide residue. Strawberries in the U.S. have also been known to test positive for captan, which is a probable carcinogen.
Strawberries are considered particularly vulnerable to pesticide contamination because their soft, porous exterior makes them more likely to absorb pesticides. Their soft texture also makes them difficult to clean thoroughly, which makes the problem even worse.
However, switching to other fruits won’t help you escape the problem. The U.S. Department of Agriculture found that 98 percent of peaches tested positive for at least one pesticide, while grapes tested positive for three different pesticides including one that is banned in Europe, imidacloprid.
Apples fare even worse, with 99 percent containing at least one type of pesticide residue, including the known carcinogen thiabendazole. Meanwhile, cherries tested positive for the productive toxin bifenthrin, which has been known to cause infertility, birth defects, and growth impairment.
A simple solution: go organic
It’s disturbing to think that a food that is theoretically so healthy could damage your health to such a dramatic extent. As the book Food Forensics shows, food contamination is prevalent and consumer awareness is the best defense. Thankfully, there is a simple solution to the problem of pesticides in fruit: switch to organic produce. Not only can that help you avoid the pesticides found on all of these conventionally grown fruits, but it can also cause the pesticide levels in your body to drop fairly quickly.
A study published in the Journal of Environmental Research shows that eating an organic diet for only one week is enough to reduce a person’s pesticide levels by nearly 90 percent! This is a simple yet very powerful move you can make to improve your health dramatically, so switch to organic produce today!