From: Miriam Kresh, Green Prophet
Published December 16, 2012 08:14 AM

Vegetables in Israel Carry Heavy Pesticide Residue

Are Israelis eating a mouthful of pesticides for breakfast?

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If there's one food group that Israelis love, it's vegetables. In fact, all over the Middle East, vegetables are treated with love and presented at table in infinite artful ways. And people are picky about their produce, carefully inspecting each tomato and cucumber before consenting to buy.

But health hazards lurk on the well-loved produce. According to Haaretz, 11% of produce tested by the Israel Health Ministry showed unacceptably high levels of pesticide residues. Of over 5000 samples taken from 108 kinds of foods, 56% had traces of different pesticides.

A scary tomato yielded 50 kinds of residues, while a cucumber showed 30 types. 46 kinds of pesticides were found on parsley. Those are the main ingredients of the famous Israeli salad. Are Israelis indeed eating pesticides with every bite of salad? Studies like the one showing how pregnant Jerusalemite women have higher pesticide levels in their bodies than pregnant New Yorkers support this suspicion.

Even so, the Health Ministry stated that the pesticide residues on produce don't represent a public health risk. Their argument is that the quantity of pesticides on raw samples doesn't represent the quality of the same food when it's peeled and cooked. Then there was the study from Stanford University that concluded that organic food isn't really healthier.

The Israel Union for Environmental Defense (and common sense) reply that health risks to sensitive populations like children, people with allergies, and the elderly are not yet known, nor what the accumulative effects may be.

Arabic Salad photo via Shutterstock.

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