This is a Groucho
Marx question. Somebody asked Groucho, "How's your wife?"
and Groucho answered, "Compared to what?" You're asking
"How safe are fruits and vegetables?" and the Groucho answer
would be "Compared to what? Meat, eggs, dairy, poultry, fish?"
In a pinch you
have to eat something regardless of how contaminated it may be.
Pesticides are concentrated at each stage of the food chain so the
contamination is about 10 times worse in animal foods than in plant
foods. Since I'm already a vegan I haven't pursued this matter much
beyond buying organic produce whenever possible, but if you want
all the details read:
Diet for a Poisoned Planet: How to Choose Safe Foods for You and
New York 1990
I think Steinman
implies that most of the pesticides stay on the outside of the plant
and that would square with the reason for their being there in the
first place-to repel insects before they can bite in. By contrast
the animals are plant predators so the pesticides on the plants
wind up inside the animals and since they're fat soluble they end
up in fat storage depots.
"Which fruits and vegetables are relatively safer to eat?"
I think should be re-phrased to "Which fruits and vegetables
are most nutritious?" and then do your best to find the organic
Hope this helps.
Harris MD received a degree in physics from the University of
California Berkeley, where he earned Phi Beta Kappa honors. He received
his degree in medicine from the University of California at San
Francisco, and received his postgraduate training at San Diego County
Hospital. He holds a Medical License in the State of Hawaii. He
has been an Emergency Department physican since 1963, and the Director
of the Kaiser Permanente Vegan Lifestyle Clinic on Oahu until his
retirement in 1998. Dr. Harris is the author of The Scientific Basis
In addition, he was the 1950 Big Ten Trampoline Champion, is
an accomplished hangglider and commercial pilot, and at age 70 became
a skydiver with 108 jumps to date. Dr. Harris has been vegetarian
since 1950, and vegan since 1963.