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Monday, September 25, 2023

This is the season to enjoy fresh fruits and vegetables

Dr. Veita Bland / June 22, 2018

Fresh fruits and vegetables are important to the human diet. Be sure to wash produce thoroughly before using in order to decrease your pesticide exposure as well as possible exposures to any food borne illnesses.

Warm weather has arrived and one of the great things about this time of the year is the abundance of fresh fruits and vegetables. Fresh fruits and veggies are in abundance during this time of year. Grocery stores and community markets are overflowing with fresh farm raised goods for purchase.

The question is, what techniques did the farmer use to grow those beautiful veggies? Were pesticides used to kill the insects? Were the vegetables and fruits organically grown and thus no pesticides used in the cultivation process?

Each year the Environmental Working Group (EWG), a nonprofit organization focused on human health and the environment, looks at the fresh produce and issues its list of so called “Dirty Dozen,” fresh fruits and veggies with the most pesticides found on them. Interestingly, these are the same fruits and veggies as last year but some of them have traded places. They are listed below from worst to least offender:

  • Strawberries
  • Spinach
  • Nectarines
  • Apples
  • Grapes
  • Peaches
  • Cherries
  • Pears
  • Tomatoes
  • Celery
  • Potatoes
  • Sweet bell peppers
  • There was concern that people would not eat there fruits and veggies when confronted with this information. Fruits and veggies on the aforementioned list may be items many consumers may wish to buy as organic. Or better yet, some fruits and vegetables on this list, such as the tomatoes, may be grown at home.

    The EWG has also formulated a “Clean 15” list of produce that is least likely to have been treated with pesticides. That list is once again similar to last year’s list. Included are the following:

    1. Avocados
    2. Sweet corn
    3. Pineapple
    4. Cabbage
    5. Onions
    6. Frozen sweet peas
    7. Papaya
    8. Asparagus
    9. Mangoes
    10. Eggplant
    11. Honeydew melon
    12. Kiwi
    13. Cantaloupe
    14. Cauliflower
    15. Broccoli

    Dr. Carl Winter, food toxicologist and vice chair of food science at the University of California Davis , reminds that when buying produce, we should take into consideration the amount of pesticides present, the amount of food consumed and the toxicity of the pesticides used. Caution must be used by women who are pregnant or may become pregnant as well as in young children who may consume produce treated with pesticides.

    When the appropriate precautions are taken and produce is washed thoroughly, people are able to enjoy the fresh fruits and vegetables of the summer season. This is indeed a wonderful time of the year. Be sure to wash the produce you buy prior to eating in order to avoid food borne illnesses.

    Dr. Veita Bland is a board certified Greensboro physician and hypertension specialist. Dr. Bland’s radio show, “It’s a Matter of Your Health,” can be heard live on Wednesdays, 5:30 p.m. on N.C. A&T State University’s WNAA, 90.1 FM. Listeners may call in and ask questions. The show is replayed on Sirius 142 at 5 p.m. on Wednesdays.
    Email Dr. Bland at


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