The most common recommendation made by health experts in the area of produce selection is to choose “organic” varieties for maximum health benefits. We trust organic label certifications because they are supposed to comply with organic standards set by national governments and international organizations. Synthetic pesticides and chemical fertilizers are not allowed in organic practices, but that’s not always the case. Research by a Food Inspection Agency in Canada has found that nearly half the organic fresh fruits and vegetables tested in the past two years contained pesticide residue, violating maximum allowable limits for the presence of pesticides, the data shows.
Of the 45.8 percent of samples that tested positive for some trace of pesticide. Most consumers of organic food do not expect to hear that the produce they buy contains pesticides, epsecially for the premium paid.
The data released to CBC News under the federal Access to Information Act includes testing of organic fruits and vegetables sampled between September 2011 and September 2013.
The results were not what Winnipeg organic consumer Mathieu Rey was expecting. “I would hope that the products are without pesticides. That is what I would be looking for,” Rey said in an interview. “I’m trusting the companies to provide a non-pesticide or pesticide-free product.”
As widespread as the pesticide residues were, they were still considerably less than the 78.4 percent of non-organic samples the inspection agency found containing pesticide residues, violating the allowable limits 4.7 percent of the time.
A U.S. Department of Agriculture that found nearly 20 percent of organic lettuce tested positive for pesticide residues piqued our interest. Lots of the lettuce contained quite a bit of spinosad, a pesticide marketed by Dow Chemical under the brand name.