An article in Slate online magazine ranked fresh fruits and vegetables not by how locally grown they are, not by how organically they were grown, but by how environmentally sustainable their production is as a whole.
The article, "Sustainable Salads," hits hard at bananas, strawberries and carrots, among others, and reported broccoli, leafy greens and beans as “the clean end of the list.”
When considering fertilizer use, bananas were called out, saying they require 427 pounds of nitrogen, phosphate and potash fertilizer per acre, according to the United National Food and Agriculture Organization. Sugar beets and citrus crops were reported to follow bananas on the list.
The article attributed its pesticide data to the Pesticide Action Network in California, which only tracks chemical use on California crops. Raspberries require the most pesticide to grow per acre at 20.2 pounds, followed by carrots and strawberries. Citrus didn’t fare as poorly here, coming up in the middle along with tree fruit.
Fruits and vegetables that required less fertilizer or pesticide to grow were praised. Peas and beans were on the better end of the list for fertilizer use because they can absorb nitrogen from the air, according to the article.
“In short, eat more beans,” it stated.
Broccoli, leafy greens, beans and grains were touted for their low requirement of pesticide, at less than 3 pounds per acre.