Why should you choose organic tomatoes? Conventional tomatoes are likely to be heavily sprayed, and from research done so far, they will certainly feature in the next New Zealand dirty dozen, food available here that is more likely to contain pesticide residues. More than two thirds of samples tested had pesticides, including sauce and juice. The total number of pesticides in all the samples was a staggering 36!
The total number of pesticides in all the samples was a staggering 36!
Does this matter, you may ask? Doesn’t our regulatory authority MPI (Ministry for Primary Industries) ensure that pesticides are at safe levels? One of the many problems with current regulations is that pesticides are tested individually, not in the cocktail we actually consume. Another problem is that it is assumed a little bit of something that could cause cancer or disrupt the hormones won’t hurt us, when plenty of research indicates the contrary.
In the 111 samples of tomatoes or tomato products tested, there were at least 19 pesticides that are carcinogens or that could cause cancer
In the 111 samples of tomatoes or tomato products tested, there were at least 19 pesticides that are carcinogens or that could cause cancer, and as well 17 of them are endocrine disruptors, or substances that can have an effect on our hormones, even in minute quantities. Ten of the pesticides found are known to be toxic to bees – that’s not counting the pesticides that haven’t been sufficiently studied!
There is some scientific data that suggests soaking conventional produce in vinegar and water (1:4) for 20 minutes will remove some pesticides, but not all, some of which go right through. Rinse in water afterwards. Peeling also removes some residues, but that’s not an easy option for tomatoes!
We don’t really know the effects of all these pesticide residues on our health, but what we do know is that the environmental effects of using pesticides are bad, including the effects on soil, water, bees and climate change. We also know that by buying organic we are supporting a system that better supports us and the planet.
Analysis by Alison White January 2023
Data from NZ FRSP 2013-2016 & TDS 2016.