With the latest news that ADHD in children is linked to common pesticides used on fruits and vegetables, it is more important than ever to be aware of what we are putting on our plates. Of the 1.2 billion pounds of pesticides used annually in the US, less than .01% actually reach their intended targets--the bugs! Obviously they are completely contaminating our food, and the consequences are disastrous, with numerous national and international government agencies acknowledging the connection to various health problems--nervous system toxicity, cancer, hormone system effects, and irritation of skin, eyes, and lungs among them.
Unfortunately, due to cost and availability, organic food which is grown without any pesticides, is not a plausible option for every family. Thankfully, the Environmental Working Group has put together a ranked list of the 49 most purchased produce items, based on laboratory tests conducted by the US Department Of Agriculture Pesticide Testing Program. So if you can't get organic, at least you know which foods are the safest, and which should be avoided.
The EWG rated the 49 food items based on a variety of measurements, including percent of detectable pesticide and multiple pesticides, average number and amount of pesticides on samples, and maximum number and amounts of pesticides per item. The list is based on an analysis of 96,000 pesticide tests the USDA and FDA conducted between 2000 and 2008. Most of the tests were conducted on produce that had been rinsed and peeled.