The Environmental Working Group (EWG) puts out a “dirty dozen” list each year based on a criminally misleading interpretation of the USDA-Agricultural Marketing Service, PDP pesticide residue data. The data actually demonstrates that the pesticide residues on foods are virtually all lower than the strict tolerances that have been set by the EPA. What the EWG completely ignores is the information on what chemicals the pesticide residues represents, what level was detected, and what is known about the toxicity or ecological effects of that chemical (kind of a large omission). They also fail to mention that each year only 18 or so commodities are tested, so whether a certain fruit or vegetable ends up on the “Dirty” list is really mostly a function of having been included in the PDP study in the first place. To make matters worse, EWG treats every “detection” the same, even though the risk associated with different residues can easily vary by a factor of 10 million or more. The press generally covers this nonsense in a completely uncritical fashion, and the net effect is that Americans consume less fresh produce and that only exacerbates our obesity-promoting diet.
I thought it would be good to post my personal list of dangerous foods based on more than 30 years of experience with food and agriculture. I am generally very confident in the safety and quality of the global food system, particularly the American food industry, but there are foods that I definitely avoid! Here is the list:
1. Bean sprouts or any other kind of sprouts
2. Organic corn chips
3. Foods sweetened with “fruit juice concentrate” from China
4. Nutmeg from India
5. Foods containing transfats
6. Peanuts from Africa
7. Organic, “ready to cook” meals
8. Raw milk
9. Agave nectar
10. Artisan breads with whole wheat “berries”
11. Brazil nuts
12. Raw peanuts in the shell
Here is my logic for each of these commodities. (Click the page link below to continue)
Skull image from Simon Strandgaard.