The specific chemicals that may be found on non-organic fruits and vegetables can vary widely, depending on the certain food being grown and the practices of that particular farm. Because certain types of fruits or vegetables have their own unique needs, they will all require a different approach to spraying. But even a general idea of what types of sludge that may be lurking on your food can be very enlightening.

We all know about pesticides and herbicides, sprays used to kill the various insects that dine on our growing food and sprays to kill the relentless weeds that grow between the plants. These chemicals are toxic to insects and weed, so why wouldn’t they be harmful to us as well?  A few examples are glyphosphate (brand name is Roundup), glufosiate and malathion. There have been studies involving all of these resulting in health problems and even birth defects in high enough quantities.

The problem isn’t the small quantities that may be left on your foods, but that these chemicals can accumulate in your body. A little residue left on an apple won’t harm anyone, but after a few hundred apples over time, it can start to be a problem.

Chemical sprays are only one source of residues. In many places, sewage sludge is used as fertilizer. Technically, this kind of waste is actually an excellent source of nutrients for plants but unfortunately it is usually contaminated with more chemicals than you can name. Thousands of chemicals can end up in sewage sludge, including dioxins, PCBs, heavy metals and more

Meat, eggs and dairy are another issue altogether. Not only are animals fed crops with these same potential contaminants, they are also treated with a host of chemicals themselves. Animals raised for meat may be given genetically modified growth hormones to speed up their natural rate of growth, and any animals (including those for dairy) are dosed with antibiotics on a regular basis to keep them from getting ill. This ends up in the meat, eggs and dairy you eat.

Any certified organic produce will be free of any of these chemical contaminant. The regulations even include the restriction of sewage sludge as fertilizer.