Snacking on Sunshine and Pesticides?

shannonOn a warm summer day, there’s no place I’d rather be than walking around a farmers market in my favorite sundress devouring a pint of organic strawberries. ( I always have to buy two pints because one ultimately is gone by the time I leave the market.) However, my happy place can also be challenged and daunting (and even scary) as I try to navigate the rows of vendors trying to avoid pesticides on conventional strawberries and other fruits and vegetables.


Every year the Environmental Working Group (EWG) puts out a list called the “Dirty Dozen.” These are the twelve crops that have the most pesticide residues that year. Where does my favorite fruit lie on the list? Number one. According to the Pesticide Action Network’s “What’s On My Food” database, there are approximately 45 pesticides that can be found on conventional strawberries. Of these 45, 31 are either carcinogenic, known to cause cancer, endocrine disruptors, disrupt normal hormone functions, neurotoxins, bee toxins, or developmental/reproductive toxins or they are some combination of the bunch. Now, to me, that makes my beautifully envisioned Saturday eating strawberries in my sundress a lot less appetizing.

Why is it so important to know what pesticides and toxins are being put on our favorite summertime snacks? Well, mainly because we are ingesting them and thus introducing these chemicals to our bodies which cause diseases like breast cancer. Although we may wash with water or vinegar or peel your fruit in some cases, that does not mean you are free from these harmful chemicals. Some pesticides penetrate the skin or are sucked up through the plant’s roots, embedding themselves in the body or even on the molecular structures of the fruit, causing you to still ingest the harmful chemicals.

So, what can you do?

  • Know which fruits are likely to contain large amounts of pesticides and ALWAYS buy them organic. Check out the EWG’s Dirty Dozen.
  • If you are at a grocery store, check out the PLU code (the “random” numbers on the produce stickers) and be sure that the set of numbers starts with “9”.
  • Check out the Pesticide Action Network and What’s on My Food to do some of your own research on the pesticides on your favorite fruit.
  • Summertime has a bounty of fresh, flavorful fruit don’t be afraid to talk with your local farmer about their use of pesticides. (Hopefully there are no synthetic ones!)
  • Keep checking in with what Protect Our Breasts is posting on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram to be updated by the most up to date news and science.

You can enjoy your favorite summertime snacks and avoid harmful pesticides at the same time! Study up and I’ll see you at the farmer’s market!

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