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AFF: What EWG doesn’t want you to know: Part 2

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As the Environmental Working Group (EWG) prepares to release its so-called “Dirty Dozen” list, which inaccurately disparages popular and more affordable fruits and vegetables, it’s important to note the information that EWG does not want consumers to know or see. Because the list is so long, we have broken it into two parts.

Our last blog focused on the very positive results from federal and state government residue sampling programs. This blog will focus on peer reviewed studies and the number one thing EWG doesn’t want you to know.

Peer Reviewed Toxicology Studies:
Journal of Toxicology: You have heard it from us many times before, but a peer reviewed analysis of the “Dirty Dozen” list shows EWG’s list just doesn’t stand up to any level of scientific scrutiny. This analysis found that, not only does EWG refuse to follow any established scientific procedures in the development of its list, but their recommendation to substitute organic forms of produce for conventional does not result in any reduction in risk to consumers. Why? Because residue levels on conventional produce, if present at all, are so very low.

Food and Chemical Toxicology: What is the risk/benefit of consuming a diet rich in conventionally grown produce and pesticide residue exposure? This peer reviewed study examined that question and found that if half of all Americans increased their consumption of fruit and vegetables by a single serving each day, 20,000 cancer cases could be prevented annually. The overwhelming difference between benefit and risk estimates provides confidence that consumers should not be concerned about risks from consuming conventionally grown fruits and vegetables, according to the study.

Peer Reviewed Studies – Consumer Impact:
Nutrition Today: Researchers at the Illinois Institute of Technology’s (IIT) Center for Nutrition Research surveyed low income consumers to learn more about what terms and information about fruits and vegetables may influence their shopping intentions. Among the key findings, misleading messaging which inaccurately describes certain fruits and vegetables as having “higher” pesticide residues resulted in some low income shoppers reporting that they would be unlikely to purchase any fruits and vegetables – organically or non-organically grown.

Culture, Agriculture, Food and Environment: Researchers from Johns Hopkins Center for a Livable Future also conducted interviews among low income participants to learn more about the way organic food is understood within consumers’ definitions of healthy food. Among their findings and recommendations: “The issue of organic can swamp or compete with other messages about nutrition, as evidenced by the data presented here. Perceiving that there is an overwhelming amount of sometimes contradictory information about healthy eating could make some consumers defeatist about trying to eat healthily.”

EWG Admits Its Science Is Flawed:
EWG admits that their list does not assess risk nor do they apply basic tenets of toxicology in the development of their list. From EWG’s “Dirty Dozen” report: “The Shoppers Guide does not incorporate risk assessment into the calculations. All pesticides are weighted equally, and we do not factor in the levels deemed acceptable by the EPA.”

The Last Thing EWG Wants You to Know – Care and Commitment of Farmers:
EWG does not want you to know the care and commitment of farmers to produce high quality, safe and healthy foods for consumers. Many fruit and vegetable farmers are multi-generational and have been farming on the same land for decades which is the very definition of sustainability and stewardship of the land. And think about this: A farmers’ first consumer is his/her very own family and friends so quality and safety are always their top priority.

The Alliance for Food and Farming is headquartered in a California farming community so we see the commitment of farmers firsthand and have the privilege of knowing and talking to farmers daily. EWG inaccurately calling farmers’ products “dirty” angers us because we see how hard farming is and the efforts of farmers and farm workers to overcome significant challenges to bring healthy foods to consumers.

In Conclusion:
With only one in 10 of Americans eating enough of these nutrient-dense foods, we should be actively encouraging, not discouraging, consumption of the more affordable and accessible fruits and vegetables, especially when the safety of all produce is repeatedly examined and verified.

We warned you the list of things EWG doesn’t want you to know was long and we could easily fill more pages with information. But, if you still want to learn more about produce safety, try the easy-to-use pesticide residue calculator to see how many servings of a fruit or vegetable you could consume in a day and still not have any effects from residues.

You will be surprised and reassured.

Visit and @safeproduce for more produce safety information.

This update was distributed by the Alliance for Food and Farming.

For more information, please contact:
Teresa Thorne: