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Citrus fruit season

As citrus fruit seasons comes back round I get all excited about grapefruits and oranges (I’m excited about lemons all year round!) - but then I think about pesticides…

Pesticides are poisons designed to kill living organisms. Pesticides include weed killer, insecticides and fungicides. All three are sprayed onto the food we eat, often several times in a growing season. Some people are more susceptible to the effects of pesticides, especially young children and expectant mothers. Exposure to certain pesticides at critical stages in development can interfere with particular organs and their functions. Of particular concern are endocrine disrupting chemicals which affect hormone systems and have been associated with learning disabilities, attention deficit disorder, and cognitive and brain development problems.

Most of our food is farmed using pesticides, and pesticide residue is found in a lot of foods. Buying organic fruit and veg is the best option, but that is expensive and not always easy to do. However, not all foods have the same levels of pesticides, unfortunately citrus fruit are right at the top of the list.

The Pesticide Action Network campaign to raise awareness of the effect of pesticides and produce a valuable list called the Dirty Dozen. This lists the 12 foods most likely to have pesticide residue. Sadly citrus fruit are always at the top of the list, in part because they are coated in pesticide after being picked, then sprayed with wax. The wax locks the toxins in, and they make their way through the skin of the fruit into the flesh.

Once you know this it’s hard to ever imagine buying non-organic citrus fruit, and definitely not lemons if you plan to use the rind.

Look for local health food shops that sell organic fruit and vegetables, and check out Crowd Farming, where you can buy boxes of organic citrus fruit direct from the grower.

The current Dirty Dozen list is below, and you can find out more at

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