What does it take to educate the public – and dopey food writers – that “natural foods” contain far more pesticides than the trivial synthetic applications which might leave a residue on produce? See page 5 (3rd page of pdf) of Bruce Ames’ paper to find:
About 99.9 percent of the chemicals humans ingest are natural. The amounts of synthetic pesticide residues in plant food are insignificant compared to the amount of natural pesticides produced by plants themselves. Of all dietary pesticides that humans eat, 99.99 percent are natural: they are chemicals produced by plants to defend themselves against fungi, insects, and other animal predators.
We have estimated that on average Americans ingest roughly 5,000 to 10,000 different natural pesticides and their breakdown products. Americans eat about 1,500 mg of natural pesticides per person per day, which is about 10,000 times more than the 0.09 mg they consume of synthetic pesticide residues.
That doesn’t even slow the likes of Jennifer LaRue Huget:
A new guide to good, cheap,and low-pesticide, food
It ain’t easy feeding a family, at least not if you want them to eat healthful foods — and you’re on a budget. I’m always shocked at our household’s grocery bills, which reflect the high prices of produce, dairy foods and lean meats. Sometimes I think it would be easier – and I know it would be cheaper – to stock up on hot dogs and Cheez Doodles.
So I am happy for the publication online this morning of a guide to buying healthful foods without breaking the bank. The Environmental Working Group has put together “Good Food on a Tight Budget,” which lists about 100 foods that are “nutritious, cheap, clean and green,” chosen with an eye toward packing lots of good-for-you nutrients – but little sugar, fat, or sodium – into the least expensive foods.
The EWG has an agenda, of course; the D.C.-based nonprofit organization works to draw attention to the presence and health effects of chemicals, from pesticides to ingredients in cosmetics. So the foods the group has selected for this guide were chosen in part because they typically carry light pesticide loads. But if that sounds all science-y to you, know that the guide is very straightforward and user-friendly. It also provides a 10-page PDF file full of recipes, including a nice mix-and-match guide to making soups.
The EWG can sound a bit preachy, though. The pathetic cheese selection comes with the stern recommendation to “Eat less cheese” and points out “Making cheese generates harmful greenhouse gases.” Harrumph.