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The Pesticides Problem: Not All Fruits & Veggies Are Grown Equally

There’s no better feeling than eating health while at school. Grabbing a Chobani between classes or snatching the last few bananas or the rare pomegranates from the dining hall are always great choices. It’s these choices that make independent college life that much harder, considering eating is always a social event. The problem with being away from home is that it is so hard to eat healthy if you’re not always surrounded by great, healthy options.

The Huffington Post came out with a list of fruits and vegetables, called “The Clean Fifteen,” that are likely to have the least amount of harmful pesticides on them. The Washington Post also came out with a list of fruits and vegetables that are known to be grown with the most amount pesticides that they call “The Dirty Dozen.” They recommend buying the organic kind of these fruits and veggies to limit your pesticide intake. Pesticides are harmful for you to consume, though the public may be unaware. Exposure to acute amounts of pesticides can cause mild irritation and lead to pesticide poisoning. Also, pesticides like DDT have been linked to endocrine disruptors and reproductive disruptors, higher breast cancer rates, Parkinson’s disease and Alzheimer’s disease. Luckily, DDT has been banned in the US for many years now. But harmful pesticides are still being used that get blown by the wind thousands of miles away and can contaminate water supplies. This information isn’t meant to scare the public; it’s meant to make us aware of chemicals in the food we eat. You don’t have to wildly change what you eat, just know that not everything is as pure as it seems.

Between these two lists, a couple picks were surprising to see on there. They judged “The Clean Fifteen” by the outside coverings (peel and whatnot) that protect the edible center from pests just by their nature. Some of the most common produce found on the list is watermelon, mango, grapefruit, avocado, and cantaloupe. Less obvious choices on the clean list are mushrooms, sweet corn, and eggplant.  Nevertheless, these are healthy, pesticide safe fruits and veggies. The key here is that most of these foods are grown underground, therefore they are less likely to be exposed to pests and less likely to be sprayed with chemicals. To name a few off of the unclean fruits and veggies list, apples, peaches, lettuce, strawberries, blueberries, bell peppers, spinach, grapes, and celery are the most likely to have pesticides. It seems like all these foods are fine, but they have the highest levels of chemicals on them when sold in stores. People shouldn’t avoid them altogether, they should be cautious of where they came from and how they prepare them (cleaning and cooking, etc.).

Eating healthy in school is hard enough without these two lists of good versus bad produce. But making the effort to know which of these foods will do better things from your body will be beneficial in the long run. Remember that it is better to eat fruits straight from the earth than something fruit-flavored. Also, a colorful plate of food is likely to be healthier than foods of all the same color! Stay healthy, collegiettes! The better you eat, the better you feel and summer is fast approaching! 

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