A Million Trees

Shopper’s Guide to Pesticides in Produce

This article is courtesy of the Environmental Working Group.  Check them out at the link for Cosmetic Safety on my blog.  Angie

 Why Should You Care About Pesticides?

There is growing consensus in the scientific community that small doses of pesticides and other chemicals can adversely affect people, especially during vulnerable periods of fetal development and childhood when exposures can have long lasting effects. Because the toxic effects of pesticides are worrisome, not well understood, or in some cases completely unstudied, shoppers are wise to minimize exposure to pesticides whenever possible.

Will Washing and Peeling Help?

Nearly all of the data used to create these lists already considers how people typically wash and prepare produce (for example, apples are washed before testing, bananas are peeled). While washing and rinsing fresh produce may reduce levels of some pesticides, it does not eliminate them. Peeling also reduces exposures, but valuable nutrients often go down the drain with the peel. The best option is to eat a varied diet, wash all produce, and choose organic when possible to reduce exposure to potentially harmful chemicals.

How This Guide Was Developed

The produce ranking was developed by analysts at the not-for-profit Environmental Working Group (EWG) based on the results of nearly 43,000 tests for pesticides on produce collected by the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration between 2000 and 2005. A detailed description of the criteria used in developing the rankings is available as well as a full list of fresh fruits and vegetables that have been tested (see below).

EWG is a not-for-profit environmental research organization dedicated to improving public health and protecting the environment by reducing pollution in air, water and food. For more information please visit www.ewg.org.

The Full List: 43 Fruits & Veggies




1 (worst)


100 (highest pesticide load)





Sweet Bell Peppers


















Grapes – Imported















Green Beans



Hot Peppers

































Honeydew Melon






Winter Squash






Sweet Potatoes






























Sweet Peas-Frozen









Sweet Corn-Frozen





45 (best)


1 (lowest pesticide load)

Note: We ranked a total of 44 different fruits and vegetables but grapes are listed twice because we looked at both domestic and imported samples.

View Full Data Set

Creative Commons License Shopper’s Guide to Pesticides in Produce by Environmental Working Group is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License.

Body burden testing – Challenge #2

I believe the most important thing I can do is try to touch people’s lives and make a difference in my world by helping someone make a change for the better in theirs.  I learned years ago that it feels a whole lot better to stand for something than nothing at all.  And I also understand that it’s impossible to help someone if they won’t help themselves.  I quit trying to do that years ago….  But even if I help absolutely noone by offering this information – I know that I tried. 

That’s the way I feel about making changes to reduce my carbon footprint.  I know that I can’t stop global warming – but at least I know that I’m one of the many that are working to make a difference.  I got my recycle book from our county government today and WOW what a tremendous job the authors have done!  They gave me an idea for challenge #2. 

I thought I’d try to combine tips  to stop adding to your individual chemical body burden and make a change that will help the planet at the same time.  What do ya think?  I know the only author that ever got away with announcing what he was going to say is Mark Twain – but I spent years presenting in the corporate world and you tell people what you’re going to say and tell them and then tell them at the end what you just said.  Forgive me.

So I’m asking everyone that reads this – if you can’t be bothered with saving the planet – maybe you can focus on protecting yourself and saving the planet will be a nice sidebar that will make the rest of us feel that you’re at least making an effort.  It’s a win win for everyone!

Top Five Ways We Can Save Ourselves While Saving the Planet  (key points from the Recyclopedia of Anoka County, MN – with embellishment from me).

1.  Buy flourescent bulbs and save big bucks in electricity (benefit for you and the planet).  It’s illegal to put flourescent bulbs in the garbage when they finally give out.  Flourescent bulbs contain mercury and must be recycled.  Contact your local services for information to safely recycle them. 

2.  In Minnesota, it’s illegal to throw mercury thermometers and thermostats in the garbage.  If a thermometer breaks contact your county waste management for information on how to protect yourself and your environment.   You can also check with state government to see if they have special instructions in the event of a mercury spill.  Just remember if you no longer want an item with mercury in your home – don’t throw it in the garbage.  In Minnesota, we’re instructed to contact our local hazardous waste facility.

3.  Dispose of any home care products that contain the following words:  Caution, Combustible, Corrosive, Danger, Flammable, Inflammable, Poison, Toxic, Warning.  DO NOT throw them in the garbage – they are Household Hazardous Material.  Instead, take them to your local Household Hazardous Waste Facility then switch to non-toxic, environmentally safe home care products (Good for You, Your Family and the Planet).  Check out the home care products I use at GetClean .  I just saw a commerical for a big brand laundry detergent (in a big red bottle wink wink) that said they are going green – incredible!  The toxic stuff in their products are some of the most dangerous.  “Your Green is Showing” is their new tagline.  Wow – get educated on this stuff… I’ve got links on my blog to look up the chemicals in your home care products.

5.  Busy parents – check your toys for lead content among other dangerous substances.  It’s in your court and it’s a fact that our government is absolutely not checking them.   Well, let me clarify – there is 1 person checking toys in Federal Government and there are no current plans to increase authority.   You can check with the Consumers Union at consumersunion.org and other web resources.   Once you know the toys are safe then talk to other parents about recycling toys by packing up the less used toys and have a toy swap with other parents.  Kids love toys whether they are shiny and new or well worn and loved.  Heck I grew up using wooden spoons as drum sticks and boxes as drums – both can be recycled.  Let’s think about reduce and reuse.  

So that’s my challenge for you today.  It requires very little of you and I feel better for trying.  Go out and make a difference in your world – it’s a brand new day tomorrow and every day. Can’t remember all of this?  Then bookmark this site and keep coming back.  Add a comment or ask a question – I’d be thrilled to know that someone is actually acting on my suggestions.  I know a lot of you are reading – let me know if you’re doing!

Take the Body Burden Test and Change One Thing Today

You know I’m remembering the movie “Children of Men” lately.  It was a bit edgy but plausible I thought – all the humans are infertile until one woman becomes pregnant.  It’s a mad dash to save the mother and the child. 

CNN’s Anderson Cooper is bringing public awareness to a problem that is making my head spin.  The chemical load that is burdening our bodies  – in our bones, brains, muscle and organs.  Do I really want to know this? 

You bet I do and I’m going to do everything I can to minimize the amount of toxins I’m putting into my body and in my home.  I’m past child bearing years but listen up all you couples that are hoping to conceive – do what you can to get the chemicals out of your home.

First, I found an online quiz to simulate my body burden score.  Go ahead and see what your Test reveals.   OK, so now you’ve taken the test and have an idea what you can actually change and the things that may be just plain out of our control.  So let’s focus on one thing today that we can change – are you with me? 

Oprah featured non-toxic home care products on her Earth Day show this year – take a minute to see her feature for going green and toxin free   I am using these cleaners and they’re just plain fun to use – GetClean . Go ahead and try them – and send your toxic household cleaners to the hazardous waste site.  Yes – that’s what I said.  The US government considers common household cleaners as hazardous waste.  You can see what chemicals you are spreading around your home – on the floor, table, dishes, in the air you breath by visiting  NIH .

So now you have the knowledge and knowledge is consumer power.  Get the toxins out of your home and the cool thing about the Get Clean products is – they are made by the first company President Bill Clinton recognized back in 2000 as Carbon Neutral.  The first company – ever to be Carbon Neutral. 

So this is the first of many changes I’ll be challenging you to make in the coming days.  Stay tuned and let me know if you are ready to accept the “Body Burden” challenge.

Please forward this to everyone you know – let’s make a difference – one person at a time.

Body Burden Testing continued

When my daughter Stephany was 5 months old – a crop dusting plane came out of the blue sky unannounced over our home one day.  It flew back and forth past my daughters open bedroom window spraying pesticides as it went.  It was hot, we had no air conditioning and as a young mother I had no idea nor had I been warned about the damage pesticides could do to my baby. 

The next day my husband and I watched as her eyes darted back and forth  in her head, her body became limp as a rag doll and frothy saliva flowed from one side of her mouth.  We thought we were loosing her – we rushed her to the hospital where we heard her shreek in pain as they did a spinal tap among other testing.  I’ll never forget that day.  They couldn’t determine the cause of her convulsive trauma but today I know what caused it – pesticides from that plane.

Fast forward to recent years – I used cleaners to scrub my bathtub that would take my breath away and make me sick for 3 days afterward.  If I cleaned my oven – I’d be incapacitated for days so other family members would have to clean it for me.  My daughter Stephany was developing increased sensitivities to retail cleaning products also but she continued using them through the births of both her sons.  My daughter Dawn has ADD which is being directly linked to household cleaners now.  She is especially vulnerable toxic carpet cleaning shampoos and chemicals.

They have found in Washington State that if children eat organic foods and are not expsoed to pesticides in the home (anybody using the Orkin Man out there) – they have significantly lower body burden test results than other children.

I found Shaklee Get Clean concentrated cleaners because I was concerned about making changes to reduce global warming.  A coworker had told me they are environmentally safe for the planet and non-toxic for his family. We used them and found we have health benefits along with eliminating 108 pounds of packaging waste from landfills and 248 pounds of greenhouse gases. They don’t make us sick – period – and H2 is Green Seal Certified so I know it’s not going to add to our already chemically burdened bodies.

A member can purchase the Get Clean Starter Kit  for about $150 and it is the equivalent of $3400 of retail home care products.  It’s a no brainer really – and they’ve been  3rd party tested and proven to outperform products like Spray and Wash, Shout, Pledge Wipes, All, Windex to name a few.  Oprah uses them in her home and studio and raved about them on a show in May of this year.  Leonardo Decaprio’s “11th Hour” , etc etc.  You can order the kit at : http://www.shaklee.net/upnorth/prodHou .  You’ll find that most of your retail cleaners are classified as hazardous materials.  You’ll find a government link at my blog where you can look up your brand name household product,  so check with your local services how you can dispose of them.  Get them out of your house and stop breathing in chemicals.  Cancel your Orkin contract while you’re at it.

Home Schooling Mom’s Journey of Discovery

As a woman with asthma I have come to understand the dramatic effects that retail household chemicals have on my breathing.  The excerpt below absolutely floors me.  These cleaners are responsible for so much disease – kids asthma has increased by 160% in recent years.   The EPA states that indoor air pollution is 2 to 5 times greater indoors than outdoors. 

 If you have children – switch to non-toxic cleaners – if you don’t – switch to non-toxic cleaners. 

Being a concerned mother of nearly four, I do care about the wellness of my family and the toxins in my home.  But this concern has taken different action over the past years.  When I had my first baby, I gave cleaning products a great deal of thought and tried to make as many as I could using earth friendly ingredients and recipes I found online.  Then, after the arrival of my second baby, I needed convenience and so I tried some of the green cleaners found at health food stores.  They were expensive so at times I had to just use the chemicals that choke you from the cleaning aisles of grocery stores.  And finally, after my third baby, I needed maximum convenience and minimum price.  So I started to use Clorox wipes, among other things.  (I have to be honest, even though I hate to admit it!  J

 Unfortunately, I was doing more harm than good.  A friend of mine suggested I watch Toxic Brew, a news segment produced by a Canadian news station. After watching this video, the reality of what I was bringing into my home began to dawn on me!

 Note: You can view Toxic Brew online at  http://theglobalsuccessteam.net/

Only a month or so later, I heard of the work of Dr. Doris Rapp, who researches the effects of harmful chemicals on children’s health.  (You can find her books, including Is This Your Child’s World? at www.amazon.com

 In one of her studies, she tested the effect of bleach on six-year-old’s handwriting.  I looked at the printed results, and was amazed at the evidence.  Before a bottle of bleach was opened, students wrote their names fairly well.  Then, with just an opened bottle of bleach in the room and the fumes wafting through the air, the children wrote their names dramatically different.  Some wrote messy, some too small to read, and one even wrote backwards. 

Being the devil’s advocate that I am, I thought: “Well, they just printed up the worst case scenarios.  Certainly it wouldn’t affect my kids this way.”  So, I determined to do the same test at home.  I didn’t tell my kids what I was doing.  I only told them to write as neatly as they could.  They printed their names on a sheet of paper.   Then, I told them to hold up their papers while I wiped the table off with a Clorox wipe.  As soon as it was dry enough, I had them put their papers down and write their names again.  I was shocked!  My daughter’s writing was visibly messier; instead of letters being tight and connected, they were loopy and crooked.  My son was completely distracted by something while he was writing his name!  (This is uncharacteristic of him.  He has no attention difficulties.)  When he realized that he was talking about something else, he stopped mid-sentence and said: “Wait, I’m supposed to be writing my name!?”  The next letter he wrote was upside-down (which my son had never done before).  I took it to the next level and had my children move to another room where there were no Clorox fumes.  They wrote their names again and proved that without being ‘under the influence’ they could write just as neat as the first time.  I could clearly see that the chemicals were affecting both writing ability and focus. 

My children are home-schooled and we do chores every morning before school starts.  Since they have direct exposure to cleaners, I was burdened by thoughts of how the cleaning chemicals were affecting them in other ways.  To make a long story shorter, I promised myself from that time on that I would not subject my children’s minds to danger again, not to mention their lungs and skin. 

And I am very pleased with the alternatives that Shaklee offers!  The Get Clean products are very powerful, environmentally friendly, cost-effective cleaning products that contain no toxic chemicals and no dangerous fumes!  What more was I looking for?  I have totally clean, residue-free dishes; totally clean, irritation-free clothes; and totally clean, fume-free chore time!  I LOVE IT and I want to spread the word so that every mom can give her children the priceless gift of a toxin-free home!

 –Amy K. Jefferson, GA