The use of pesticides as we know them (insecticides, fungicides and herbicides) began in the 1970s. Forty years later, this practice has become a rule of thumb and many pesticide residues are found in our food. Recall that according to recent studies, they can be the cause of cancer and pose threats to male fertility and fetal development.
Each year, the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) analyzes some 70 000 foods for their pesticide residue content. Here is what she found, as summarized by the book of agricultural engineer Claube Aubert, Eating organic, it’s better! :
– Residues of 338 different pesticides in vegetables
– 319 in the fruits
– 93 in the cereals
– 34 in animal products
However, not all fruits and vegetables are in the same boat. Among the better off: onions, shallots and garlic (with only 13.6% of contaminated samples), spinach (24.5%), asparagus and leek (24.6%) or root vegetables, such as potatoes or radishes (26%). Claude Aubert explains:
“Most pesticides, especially insecticides, are used outdoors. They are deposited on fruits and vegetables via a sprayer. This is why plants growing inside the earth, such as potatoes, are less likely to be contaminated. “
Unfortunately all plants do not grow underground and some are the cost of the omnipresence of pesticides. This is why Claude Aubert recommends eating organic as much as possible, because for some of the plants in question, the rate of pesticides is divided by 10 if they come from organic farming.
“The skin of the fruit is the area where the most antioxidants and vitamins are concentrated. But it can only be consumed if the fruit is organic, because in the rest of the cases, it is also in the skin that pesticides are concentrated. ‘
Pesticides and nitrates, formidable enemies
“Pesticides are found in all fruits and vegetables, even if they come from organic farming (AB), but in much smaller quantities. The ones that contain the most are carrots, potatoes and leeks, “says Valérie Espinasse.
Pesticides are right to scare us … Also called phytosanitary products, they include herbicides, fungicides, insecticides, rodenticides (against rodents) and molluscicides (against snails). “Nitrates, for their part, represent great neurological toxins, even if they prevent the development of parasites on plants,” says Valérie Espinasse.
For the most contaminated fruits and vegetables, here is the list:
1 / Cucumbers and zucchini
More than one-third (37.7%) of cucumbers and zucchini would be contaminated, according to EFSA.
2 / Pulses (peas, beans, lentils, etc.)
Nearly 40% of peas, beans and lentils are contaminated.
3 / Stone fruits (avocado, apricot, mango, etc.)
Be careful, this is where it becomes very worrying: more than half of stone fruits (54.8%) would carry pesticide residues. You should know that these fruits, very attacked by insects, are the subject of many treatments.
4 / Pome fruits (apples, pears, etc.)
“The apple is extremely attacked by worms and other insects,” recalls Claude Aubert. It is the most treated plant in France. Result: 65.2% of apple and pear samples, classified as pome fruit, were carrying pesticide residues.
5 / The peppers
The peppers, which are also very attacked by insects, are therefore subject to intensive treatment: Two-thirds (66%) would carry pesticide residues, on par with …
6 / The salad
About two-thirds of the lettuce samples analyzed had pesticide residues.
But why? “Lettuce is grown under glass, which could explain why pesticides do not dissipate in the air,” explains Claude Aubert.
This explains why, globally, the salad is the most contaminated plant.
7 / Strawberries
For the same reason as the salad, the strawberry is also subject to pesticides: 71.3% of the samples analyzed had residues.
8 / Citrus fruits
75% of lemons and oranges are said to carry pesticide residues.
9 / Raspberries
75.9% of the raspberries would be contaminated.
Remember that if you have a garden, raspberries grow on their own.
10 / The grapes
Globally, only 73.8% of grapes carry pesticides. But in France, they would be more than 81%. “The grapes carry the sad record of the number of pesticides used: 26 alone,” says Claude Aubert. In addition, the grapes present a real disadvantage: they can not be peeled like other fruits, while the largest number of pesticides are deposited on the skin. “
11 / The potato
The use of pesticides for potato crops is increasing in developing countries, with the intensification of production and the geographical and temporal extension of crops beyond the traditional framework of tuber production. The chemicals used are frequently very toxic and applied with minimal or no protective clothing. For this crop, some of the most harmful pesticides and herbicides for humans are still allowed in Europe and around the world. Buy the French, one of the only countries to have banned some of these products ..
Prefer bio is sometimes not much more expensive and you will also consume more moderately. Eating organic means that you have decided to give time and attention to your diet and shopping. That you are ready to invest yourself. For example to make a vegetable garden or plant fruit trees at home.