My favorite vegetable, kale, just joined the Environmental Working Group’s Dirty Dozen list for the first time in ten years, and it ranked third. Vegetables are so important for vital nutrients and antioxidants. Kale is one of my faves not because of the taste, but because of the amazing health benefits. I’m so glad that my family eats organic and I hope yours does too. You especially need to buy organic when it comes to the EWG’s Dirty Dozen. Read on to find out why kale is considered dirty when conventionally grown, and why it hasn’t been on the list for a decade.
EWG’s Dirty Dozen
Every year, the United States Department of Agriculture tests pesticides in samples of fruits and vegetables. The Environmental Working Group analyzes the data from these samples to compile their Dirty Dozen list, or vegetables you should absolutely buy organic, along with their Clean Fifteen list, which identifies crops with lower vegetable residues. The EWG found that almost 70% of produce sold in the U.S. comes with pesticide residue. That’s the produce at the grocery store, restaurants and farmer’s markets that most Americans are enjoying. Yuck, right?
Why does the EWG analyze this data? They think it’s important and nobody else is looking at it to bring it to the attention of Americans. Pesticide residue isn’t something you can just wash off. All of the analyzed samples were washed and also peeled if typically peeled during preparation. Pesticide ingestion has been linked to immune issues, cancer, development problems, Parkinson’s disease, and endocrine disruption. (1) Endocrine disruption can lead to a variety of conditions including precocious puberty, endometriosis, painful periods, man boobs and other hormonal conditions. Exposure to these chemicals has been linked to lower IQ’s in children of exposed mothers, linked to higher rates of prostate cancer in farm workers, and higher rates of ADHD. (2) These aren’t issues that anybody wants for themselves, or their family, and we are just uncovering the long-term effects.
Here’s the full list of EWG’s Dirty Dozen for 2019
Kale and Dirty Dozen
Kale ranked third on the list after not being tested since 2009, when it was ranked as number eight. They must not have realized how amazing kale is so they stopped testing it, but its popularity is going up. Unfortunately, the pesticide residues found on it are too! According to the EWG, 92% of the kale samples tested had two or more types of pesticide residues while some samples having 18 different types. The most common type of pesticide found was Dacthal, which is a possible human carcinogen that has been banned in Europe for a decade. (3) It’s still legal here in the U.S. but that doesn’t mean it’s safe. So even though it hasn’t been on the list doesn’t mean it hasn’t been full of pesticides.
Don’t stop eating kale! There are so many antioxidants, minerals, phytochemicals and other nutrients which make this the king of vegetables. You can find my three favorite reasons for loving kale in my recent article. So keep eating it! Just switch to organic! One of my favorite recipes is kale chips. Changing your diet can have fast and “protective” results on the amount of pesticide metabolites that are found in the urine when you switch to an organic diet. (4)
So, don’t feel bad if you didn’t realize the harm that fresh produce could be having on your body. Just make a change and the best place to “start somewhere” is by eliminating the Dirty Dozen if you haven’t done so already. Keep adding other organic fruits and vegetables as you can. We always look for organic labels including for kale. Conventional kale has always been dirty, but now it’s officially on the list.
Here’s EWG’s Clean Fifteen
- Sweet corn
- Frozen sweet peas
- Honeydew melons
Written by Dr. Patrick Flynn