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Produce

The Scare Factor
Conventionally grown fruits and vegetables are doused with dozens of chemical pesticides. Produce has surpassed meat and poultry as the most common source of food-borne illnesses, accounting for 21 percent of all outbreak-related illnesses in the past 15 years.

What It Means to You
Pesticide residues have been linked to allergic reactions, hormonal disruption, and cancer. And they are especially toxic to young children and unborn babies. However, your actual risk of contracting an illness this way is still quite low, thanks to EPA regulations and safety steps being taken by growers.

Shopping Strategy
Choose organic when you buy the most heavily sprayed produce (peaches, apples, nectarines, strawberries, pears, celery, cherries, imported grapes, spinach, lettuce, sweet bell peppers, and potatoes). See where other fruits and vegetables fall on the pesticide scale at FoodNews.org .

You Can Also…
Thoroughly wash produce under cold running water. For foods with firm surfaces, such as apples or potatoes, use a brush. In the refrigerator, store meat away from produce.

Fish

The Scare Factor

Mercury is released into the air by coal-burning power plants. It's then deposited in oceans and streams, where bacteria convert it to a more toxic form, methylmercury. Picked up by plankton, it makes its way up the food chain and is most prevalent in large predatory fish, along with other pollutants such as PCBs and dioxins.

What It Means to You
Methylmercury can cause brain damage in young children and developing fetuses. PCBs have been found to cause cancer in laboratory animals. Eating PCB-contaminated fish before and during pregnancy has been found to cause lower birth weights and reduced visual recognition and delayed muscle development in children.

Shopping Strategy
Skip shark, swordfish, king mackerel, tilefish, bluefin tuna, and farmed salmon, which is fed a diet of PCB-contaminated fish and on average has up to 16 times more PCBs than wild salmon. Buy shrimp, canned light tuna, wild or canned salmon, halibut, and catfish. For more, visit OceansAlive.org .

You Can Also…
Pollutants are most likely to accumulate below the skin and in fat deposits, so remove skin before cooking (though mercury concentrates in the muscle tissue). If you're pregnant or planning to be within a year, stick to two servings a week (calculate your allowance at GotMercury.org ). Otherwise, enjoy low-mercury fish.

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