BOUTTE - The strawberry you spoon into your cereal each morning ought to be marked with a skull and crossbones because even though the luscious red fruit appears to be a healthy choice, it's actually dripping with deadly pesticides that won't wash off.
And whenever you eat a strawberry - or any fruit or vegetable that hasn't been certified as organic - you're being poisoned as surely as a caterpillar on a leaf or a rat in the field.
That warning comes from no less a source than the U.S. Department of Agriculture in Washington, D.C.
The agency found in a study of pesticides in Americaís food supply that only peaches are more toxic than strawberries when they arrive at your table.
And not far behind are other favorites like apples, nectarines, spinach and celery.
And that's after they've been washed.
The poison isn't just on the surface, says the USDA, it's systemic.
That means you can scrub and peel until you're blue in the face - you're still going to be consuming pesticides with every bite.
Some fruits and vegetables are safer than others - asparagus isn't nearly as toxic as an apple. Bananas are safe to eat and so is broccoli because theyíre hardy and naturally resistant to pests so farmers donít have to hose them down with poison all the time to keep them safe from pests.
To help you pick and choose fruits and vegetables for your table, we've provided a listing of the 12 Most and 12 Least Contaminated Fruits and Vegetables in a handy chart on this page.
When it comes to the least contaminated choices, experts generally agree that you can purchase non-organics and save money and avoid toxic overload at the same time.
When buying selections from the most contaminated list, itís a good idea to buy only those that are certified organic.
10. Sweet bell peppers.
12. Imported grapes.
1. Sweet corn.
6. Sweet Peas.
11. Kiwi fruit.