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The City of Portland, Oregon

Planning and Sustainability

Innovation. Collaboration. Practical Solutions.

Phone: 503-823-7700

Curbside Hotline: 503-823-7202

1900 SW 4th Ave, Suite 7100, Portland, OR 97201

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Spray On, Spray Off

It’s not always possible to get the produce that you want organic and/or local. In this day and age, it’s normal to crave a strawberry in February or jump the gun on corn season in June. Even the most conscientious of eaters can have a winter berry breakdown (we forgive you).

While the risks of chemical inputs to our body are not completely known, we’ll invoke the precautionary principle. What has been proven (over and over) is that pesticides contaminate air, soil and water, causing harm to plants and animals in the surrounding ecosystem and downstream.

In case you don’t have access to organic produce near you or the unseasonal urge is too strong, the Environmental Working Group (EWG) has come out with a “Shopper’s Guide to Pesticides,” a list of the twelve most and fifteen least pesticide-laden fruits and vegetables. 

EWG tested the fifty most popular fruits and vegetables and looked at the likelihood of pesticide retention, the number of different types and amount of pesticides on each sample. Notably, seven of the most contaminated listings were fruits. EWG found that peaches and strawberries had been treated with over 50 different sprays whereas the most contaminated single sample among low-pesticide vegetables only showed 4 different chemicals.

Reduce your pesticide intake now! Use the guide to the right (also available here) to slyly steer your way clear of contaminants in the produce section.

For more information on the plight against pesticides visit The Pesticide Action Network North America (PANNA).

Also, check out Metro’s guide: Grow Smart Grow Safe for tips on environmentally sound gardening.