In late February, the U.S. Department of Agriculture released its 2011 Pesticide Data Program report, in which fresh and processed fruit and vegetables accounted for 82.3% of the total samples.

In it, USDA says U.S. food “does not pose a safety concern based upon pesticide residues.”

But the produce industry is well conditioned for what comes next: environmental scare tactics.

Data from the PDP, which began more than 20 years ago, has been used by the Washington, D.C.-based Environmental Working Group since 1995 to compile its “Dirty Dozen” list of produce with the most pesticide residues.

This used to be a dreaded time, as EWG would spread its message to consumers via the mainstream media about how dangerous pesticides are, and, by association, many fresh fruits and vegetables.

But work by produce industry trade groups and its partner, the Alliance for Food and Farming, has begun to balance EWG’s counter intuitive effort.

Within hours of USDA’s release, the alliance had issued the first release of its own.

It said the PDP report “clearly confirms that both conventional and organic fruits and vegetables are safe and that consumers should be eating more of both with confidence.”

The alliance even answers consumers’ possible concerns about pesticide residues, saying they should simply wash their fruits and vegetables before eating them.

Produce industry representatives should spend the next few weeks and months reminding consumers, through all media channels, what they already know to be true.

Of course fresh fruits and vegetables are good for consumers, whether they’re organic or conventional.

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