Consumer Reports lists top produce to buy organic

Data shows some conventional produce about as safe from pesticides

SAN ANTONIO – We know it's healthy to eat more fruits and vegetables. However, many consumers are concerned about pesticides, especially for growing children, who metabolize toxins differently.

Produce samples are tested every year by the Department of Agriculture for pesticide levels. Consumer Reports' Food Safety and Sustainability Center has analyzed the data and developed a risk guide for nearly 50 fruits and vegetables.

Its analysis found risk levels often vary depending on where the produce is grown. For example, cantaloupes grown in Honduras, Mexico, Guatemala and Costa Rica all had a lower risk level than cantaloupes grown in the United States.

Organic produce always fell in the low or very low risk category. So Consumer Reports says buying organic is your best option. But organic produce costs an average of 49 percent more.

Consumer Reports ranked fruits and vegetables on when it's most important to buy organic. For fruits, there are five: peaches, tangerines, nectarines, strawberries and cranberries. And these vegetables: green beans, bell and hot peppers, sweet potatoes and carrots.

The good news is Consumer Reports did find some fruits and vegetables for which conventional versions were about as safe as the organic versions when it comes to pesticide residues. These include broccoli grown in the U.S. and Mexico; U.S. cherries; grapes from the U.S., Chile, Mexico and Peru; and lettuce from the U.S. and Mexico.

Whatever produce you buy, Consumer Reports says wash it thoroughly. Consumer Reports' recommendations are based on fruits and vegetables that have been rinsed and any inedible peels and rinds removed.

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