10 Foods with the Highest Pesticide Residue Levels

Find out if your favorite fruit or vegetable is on this list

Who knew that biting into a strawberry could make you susceptible to cancer, or that a few too many pesticide-sprayed pears might lead to irreversible nervous system damage? A quick rinse under tap water might make your apple look shiny and new, but it won't do much to save you from the contamination of possibly 48 different harmful pesticides. While you already might know what foods you should buy organic, there are plenty of reasons to consider choosing a “clean” fruit over a pesticide-riddled one.

Pesticides are used in many phases of fruit and vegetable growth. While they may ward off bugs and preserve the shelf life of your fruit, they also pose a lot of potential health risks — particularly for children.

Even acute pesticide consumption is potentially lethal, and consistent exposure to pesticides can cause severe neurological damage, including Parkinson's and Alzheimer's disease, as well as disorders of the endocrine and reproductive systems.[slideshow:

In addition to causing health risks to people, pesticide use has greatly harmed the environment. Pesticide usage over a long period of time can result in lower crop yields, reduced soil fertility, and increased susceptibility to pests and disease. In nature, pesticides are impossible to limit to specific areas, since sprays often venture into unintentional areas. Plus, with the assistance of natural wind, pesticides also contaminate the air and water.

Most effects from pesticides are felt at high exposure levels, and are no reason to give up on fruits and vegetables completely. However, it’s still imperative that you approach your produce purchases with health-conscious consideration. While purchasing organic produce is an easy alternative, it usually comes at a higher price tag, which is why we’ve included alternative foods you can buy that will provide similar nutritional value, without the same high levels of pesticides.

Click here to see the 10 Foods with the Highest Pesticide Residue Levels Slideshow.

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