We've told you before about pesticide residue on foods -- how even after normal washing and preparation, many foods are laced with the pesticides used to kill bugs, fungus and weeds on the farm.
Most of what we know about pesticide residue comes from the federal government, which sets limits on how much residue can remain on foods, and which tests foods periodically to gauge compliance. Now, the Pesticide Action Network has used that data to create a pioneering consumer-friendly database it just launched at whatsonmyfood.org.
The interface is simple. You choose the food you like to eat, and it tells you how many and which kinds of pesticides have been detected on it.
Like almonds? Well, 11 pesticides -- including two known or probable carcinogens, six suspected hormone disruptors and three neurotoxins -- have been found on almonds during government testing.
Like cantaloupe? You may have ingested as many as 27 different pesticides along with that juicy flesh -- including five known or probable carcinogens, 15 suspected hormone disruptors, 11 neurotoxins and four developmental or reproductive toxicants.
That applesauce you just served your child? At times, 28 different pesticides have been detected in apple sauce, including four known or probable carcinogens, nine suspected hormone disruptors, eight neurotoxins and four developmental or reproductive toxicants.
Whether pesticides at the low levels found on foods pose a serious health risk is a matter of debate. Those who try to reduce their exposure to toxic chemicals -- given that we are virtually surrounded by them, in the air we breathe, water we drink, food we eat and products we use -- strive to reduce exposures wherever we can control them. In this case, that means choosing organic foods -- particularly for those types of foods with the highest pesticide residues. Organic food is grown without the use of manmade pesticides, chemical fertilizers, genetically modified seeds and the like. Organic foods are much less likely, therefore, to have any pesticide residue.
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