Seven Low-Pesticide Vegetables


It’s known that organic vegetables have low pesticide levels, but did you know that some conventionally grown vegetables also test low for pesticides?  If you have a limited food budget, you can save money and avoid pesticide health effects by purchasing the regular (non-organic) version of these seven vegetables:

  1. Onions
  2. Avocados
  3. Corn
  4. Peas
  5. Asparagus
  6. Cabbage
  7. Eggplant

Sales on these vegetables will save you even more.  For instance, frozen corn often goes on special; a few weeks ago, Aldi had it for 65 cents a pound.

Some of these seven vegetables are naturally resistant to insects and just don’t need pesticides.  Others have low pesticide levels because the outer hull or leaves are discarded before eating.  For example, one study found that 99% of pesticide was found in a cabbage’s outer leaves.  Apart from those outer leaves, the cabbage was virtually pesticide-free.

Use this idea to reduce your pesticide exposure in other vegetables.  For example, lettuce tends to have high pesticide levels.  This is especially true for leaf lettuce - it has an open growth habit that easily catches sprayed pesticide.  In comparison, head lettuce was reported to have lower levels, probably due to the tighter growth habit, with the inner leaves being protected from pesticide spray.

So feel free to buy onions, avocados, corn, peas, asparagus, cabbage, and eggplant non-organic (and also the low-pesticide fruits).  This will make room in your budget for buying organic versions of vegetables with high levels of pesticides (we’ll cover that group next).

Sources: FDA, EWG, Pure & Appl. Chem., 66, 335-356.