November 7 2013
Pesticide Residue Calculator
I was once told by another mother (visiting my house for a playdate) that I was putting my children at risk by letting them eat non-organic apples. She warned me about "those awful pesticides" and got even more nervous when I pulled out the non-organic milk (I write about this incident in more detail in my new book, available here). It took all my strength (and good manners) not to kick her out of my house right then and there but I decided that this was a good test for me. Could I convince this Kool-Aid drinking mom that she was misinformed about conventionally grown food? Could I relieve her of her habit of spending her scarce resources on no-healthier organic fruit? Could I make her stop screeching and biting her nails?
Okay...I won't drag this out. My experiment failed. So gritted were her teeth as I began to explain why she need not fear a little pesticide residue that I thought she might lose some enamel. So I changed to subject to Pinterest boards we both loved (I lied...I hate Pinterest), and the upcoming soccer schedule for the boys (another lie...I never signed them up!).
She hasn't been back and I have no doubt that she now views my home as some sort of toxic waste dump.
I remember at the time thinking how great it would be if moms had access to some sort of resource to check their facts on these issues. My old pal clearly wasn't looking for her opinions to be questions but I had a feeling some more rational moms were desperate for a source where they could do their own research rather than relying on alarmists who promote inaccurate dreck like the yearly "Dirty Dozen List" which scares moms away from perfectly good and reasonably priced fruits and vegetables.
So, yesterday, scrolling through my Twitter feed, I was reminded of a great website called Safefruitsandveggies.com which includes a "pesticide residue calculator." The calculator allows you to put in whatever fruit your child is eating and find out the residue level. For instance, when I clicked on "apple" and designated that the apple was being eaten by a little girl, I was given these results:
A child could consume 154 servings of apples in one day without any effect even if the apples have the highest pesticide residue recorded for apples by USDA.
That's reassuring for several reasons--the main one being that even my apple-loving kids aren't going to be eating 154 servings of apples. Clearly a few slices aren't going to put any child in danger of pesticide residue. The website lists several different fruits and vegetables (the sum of what my children eat), so use this good resource if you're nervous about this issue.
In this era of Alarmism, it's important to rely on yourself, your common sense, and real facts, not junk science when making decisions about your family's food budget. Don't let the alarmists force you to buy more expensive food. Kids are expensive enough without the added costs of fake health claims.