For the last several years, I have utilized the website of the Environmental Working Group (EWG) to assess the level of chemical exposure for everything from fruits and vegetables to cosmetics and skincare products that I frequently purchase. I have found their database of information to be extremely helpful over the years and it has definitely influenced my buying decisions on many occasions. For example, I stopped buying some organic vegetables and switched to locally grown, conventional produce if these items were listed as low to no spray by EWG. I even recommended their website in one of my blogs last summer, Organic Is Passe?
I am now not sure that EWG actually deserved that recommendation based on some of the information this group has been putting out recently. In a Oct 2008 report on bottled water, for instance, EWG trashed Zephyrhills Water (a reputable company with a wonderful, artesian water source not all that far from where I live). The data published by EWG is not in line with published water reports. Callers to EWG asking about this questionable data are given the runaround and told that the water reports “are done outside the office” (red flag) and that there is no one the caller can speak with to verify the accuracy of the results. On the flip side, callers to Zephyrhills Water are assured that the EPA requires the water reports be made public and that there is an error in the EWG report. Zephyrhills’ answer to the EWG report can be found at this link.
The second piece of research put out by EWG recently that has given me pause concerns the updated “dirty dozen” included in EWG’s Shoppers Guide to Pesticides. The dirty dozen list identifies the fruits and vegetables that expose the consumer to the highest pesticide and chemical residues. This year, domestic blueberries made the list and were actually ranked in the top five for dirtiest produce! This comes as a complete shock to me as there are many blueberry farms near where I live and not one of the farmers I have ever talked to sprays pesticides on their blueberry bushes even if the crop is not organically maintained. I take my family blueberry picking on occasion and I have never worried about my children picking the blueberries directly off the bushes and eating them. Even one organic blueberry farmer in my local area commented that she