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Dirty Dozen Just a Dirty Lie?

If you haven’t previously heard of the “Dirty Dozen” it is the Environmental Work Group’s list of produce which is most likely to have pesticide residue when consumers purchase it in the store. According to the group, these are the items you probably want to splurge on and buy organic. After all, the idea is to “protect” you and your family from pesticides. 

For the record, right now apples, celery, and bell peppers top 2012’s dangerous list.

But, wait just a second. Before you decide to “protect” your family from this hazard lurking in your local grocery store and spend your hard earned money on that organic food, consider this:

“Look beyond the fearful rhetoric, says Joseph Schwarcz, director of the Office for Science and Society at McGill University in Montreal.

Take apples, Schwarcz says. They occupy the top spot on EWG’s “dirty dozen” list of the most contaminated fruits and vegetables (followed by celery and red peppers). The group notes that nearly all apples contain detectable levels of pesticide residues.

But it’s a mistake to “equate the presence of a chemical with the presence of risk,” Schwarcz says. “Where is the evidence that these trace residues are dangerous?”

There just isn’t much there, he says.”

What’s more, the EWG’s “Dirty Dozen” list isn’t even based on scientific data. While the group purports to be looking out for consumers and “protecting” your family, science just doesn’t back them up. A study conducted on the EWG’s list and the difference between buying conventional and organic food determined that:

“(1) exposures to the most commonly detected pesticides on the twelve commodities pose negligible risks to consumers, (2) substitution of organic forms of the twelve commodities for conventional forms does not result in any appreciable reduction of consumer risks, and (3) the methodology used by the environmental advocacy group to rank commodities with respect to pesticide risks lacks scientific credibility.”

So, in other words, the EWG was full of baloney (to put it nicely). 

Not only were any risks minimal, it didn’t make a difference if the produce was conventional or organic! Further, EWG didn’t even use any scientifically credible methods to determine which produce had the residue and what risks that created. How exactly is a list supposed to help when the methodology behind it is fundamentally flawed and the solution suggested makes absolutely no difference? 

The “Dirty Dozen,” far from being a list designed to help consumers avoid adverse risks of pesticide residue found in their food, is really just some marketing ploy for other worldview or political construct of the people behind EWG. I don’t pretend to know or understand what ulterior motives these people have for scaring consumers into buying organic produce, but EWG obviously isn’t into promoting truthfulness and accurate information. They certainly are NOT into “protecting” your family. 

So, is the “Dirty Dozen” just a “Dirty Lie?” 


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