Full Q&A From Oxygen Magazine
1. What are
the parameters/requirements that determine produce's
The Environmental Working Group (EWG) uses the USDA's test samples from fruits and vegetables to determine the produce with the least and most amounts of pesticides. They use this information to construct a shopper's guide of the "Clean 15" and "Dirty Dozen" to help consumers avoid pesticide exposure.
2. What about the farming methods?Pesticides? GMOs? Why are those 12 products "Dirty" and why should you avoid them? Are they really that scary?
Over half of all the produce sold in the United States is grown with pesticides. The "Dirty" list is made up of fruits and vegetables that tested highest in pesticide residues. One of the most popular pesticides in the US is made by Monsanto and is called RoundUp. It contains the active chemical Glyphosate, which is problematic to animals (including humans) in many ways. Glyphosate is an endocrine disrupting chemical, meaning that it can mimic certain hormones in your body and has the potential to make changes to your physiology, such as fertility issues. The actual mechanism of how glyphosate works involves its ability to inhibit the shikimate metabolic pathway. This pathway does not exist in animals, but it does exist in the trillions of microorganisms that colonize your body and make up your gut microbiome. By glyphosate disrupting this pathway, it not only effects your gut diversity (which we now know is very important for health), but it alters nutrient delivery, your gut barrier, inflammatory responses, production of aromatic amino acids (used to make neurotransmitters in the body such as thyroid hormone, serotonin and dopamine) and even genetic regulation. There is also some newer literature examining a possible link between pesticide exposure and non-alcoholic fatty liver disease. There are very few studies investigating the possible consequences of long term pesticide exposure. The World Health Organization and the International Agency for Research on Cancer has deemed glyphosate a probable human carcinogen based on human and animal studies. California's Environmental Protection Agency lists glyphosate as a carcinogenic chemical known to cause birth defects, reproductive harm and cancer. This is why agencies such as the EWG have made such an effort to inform consumers of the "Dirty Dozen" and "Clean 15"
3.Why does this list of items change? Why do things get kicked off
these lists and added to them?
It's all determined by the pesticides found on testing conventional produce items and farming practices/pesticide uses has some variability from year to year.
4. Who makes these decisions on
dirty or clean?
It is a list produced by the EWG (Environmental Working Group) to help inform consumers of produce items with the highest and lowest amounts of pesticides. The conventional produce with the highest amount of pesticides found from their testing are the "Dirty Dozen" and the "Clean 15" are the fruits and vegetables with the lowest concentrations.
5. Can you "wash" a product and make it go from
dirty to clean? Why or why not?
There was a study that found soaking produce in baking soda water for 12-15 minutes can remove a significant amount of pesticides. You use 1 teaspoon of baking soda for every 2 cups of water.
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