Every year, the Environmental Working Group (EWG) analyzes which fruits and vegetables carry the biggest pesticide burden. And it places the top-12 offenders on its “Dirty Dozen” list.
This year—despite its over-exaggerated, so-called “superfood” status—kale made the “Dirty Dozen” list. (Can you hear the hipsters gasping?! Or at least, maybe you can hear them stop crunching?)
In a moment, I’ll give you the full EWG list and tell you exactly where kale ranks.
But first, let’s back up to talk more generally about so-called “super” foods like kale…
No such thing as a “super” food
I often warn about calling any single food “super.”
In fact, as I reminded you yesterday, the only thing that’s really “super” about foods is when they form part of a balanced diet—one that contains a variety of healthy, nutritious options. I talked about this topic extensively in the October 2017 issue of my Insiders’ Cures newsletter (“Five fabulous foods for a balanced diet”).
At the end of the day, kale is really no different nutritionally from other vegetables in the Brassica family, including broccoli, Brussels sprouts, and cabbage. All of which were originally cultivated from the ancient wild mustard plant in Eurasia.
What I think is different about kale compared to other Brassica vegetables is:
- It’s difficult to prepare
- It tastes bad
- It’s hard to digest
In fact, kale only became wildly popular because some marketing “miracle-workers” convinced many shoppers to believe that it’s some kind of “super” food. And they pulled this same trick with other ordinary foods, like pomegranates…
In most cases, they simply took an unusual crop, with a bad taste, that’s traditionally been difficult to sell, and twisted its story…talking millions of consumers into paying way more for its “super powers” than they should.
The real wonder about products like pomegranate and kale is why so many consumers continue to buy into this nonsense and willingly pay a premium for these over-hyped, unpalatable products.
Plus, now you’ll be forced to buy even pricier organic kale, thanks to its new spot on EWG’s “Dirty Dozen” list…
The only safe bet is organic
Kale ranked third on EWG’s “Dirty Dozen” list this year. So we can be concerned that most of the conventionally grown kale in grocery stores is laden with harmful pesticides, especially glyphosate, the main ingredient in Roundup®.
As I’ve warned before, the International Agency for Cancer Research (IARC) has labeled glyphosate as a probable human carcinogen. Plus, research links it to lots of other reproductive, hormonal, and digestive problems.
In fact, we now know glyphosate kills the healthy probiotic bacteria in your GI microbiome. In addition, many experts (including me) now blame the epidemic of food intolerance and “gluten sensitivities” on genetically modified wheat products polluted with glyphosate.
The EWG also noted that nearly 60 percent of kale is contaminated with Dacthal (DCPA), another pesticide classified by the EPA as a possible carcinogen. Other research links DCPA to liver and thyroid tumors, and other types of harm to the kidneys, liver, lungs and thyroid. (Highly bitter plants like kale also contain natural plant compounds that can harm the thyroid, if you don’t get enough iodine in your diet.)
Europe banned DCPA in 2009, which was the last time kale appeared on the “Dirty Dozen” list. But conventional farmers in the U.S. still use the carcinogen widely on crops, including broccoli, eggplant, sweet potatoes, and turnips. In fact, in 2016 alone, 500,000 pounds of DCPA were sprayed in the U.S…
Here’s the full “Dirty Dozen” list, starting with the most-contaminated:
Of course, the only way to avoid all this pesticide contamination is to buy organic. So, if you can only afford select organic fruits and vegetables, these 12 are the ones you should focus on.
Truth be told, kale was never on my own shopping list anyway. I prefer tastier green vegetables, such as arugula, broccoli, and cabbage.
“More Than Half of Kale Samples Tainted by Possibly Cancer-Causing Pesticide.” Environmental Working Group, 3/20/2019 (ewg.org/foodnews/kale.php)