Nearly two-thirds of the 3,015 produce samples tested by the U.S. Department of Agriculture in 2013 contained pesticide residues - a surprising finding in the face of soaring consumer demand for food without agricultural chemicals.
EWG's Shopper's Guide to Pesticides in Produce calculates that USDA tests found a total 165 different pesticides on thousands of fruit and vegetables samples examined in 2013.
The USDA findings indicate that the conventional fruit and produce industries are ignoring a striking market trend: American consumers are voting with their pocketbooks for produce with less pesticide. USDA’s Economic Research Service estimates that the organically produced food sector, though just 4 percent of all U.S. food sales, has enjoyed double-digit growth in recent years. The trend is particularly strong for sales of organic fruits and vegetables, which account for the lion’s share of all organic food sales: USDA economists reported that organic produce sales spiked from $5.4 billion in 2005 to an estimated $15 billion last year and increased by 11 percent between 2013 and 2014.
Pesticides persisted on fruits and vegetables tested by USDA, even when they were washed and, in some cases, peeled.
USDA EWG's Shopper's Guide to Pesticides in Produce recognizes that many people who want reduce their exposure to pesticides in produce cannot find or afford an all-organic diet. It helps them seek out conventionally grown fruits and vegetables that tend to test low for pesticide residues. When they want foods whose conventional versions test high for pesticides, they can make an effort to locate organic versions.
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