Are Pesticides Dangerous To Your Pet Bird?

parrot with banana
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Should you be concerned about pesticides on produce when you feed fruits and vegetables to your pet bird as well as feeding them to your family? The Environmental Working Group (EWG) seems to think so. But on the other hand, they don’t think you should stop eating these foods either.

If you peek behind that mixed message curtain, you will find that they have a point as well as a remedy to the problem of pesticides on fresh produce.

For example, apples are way up on the groups “Dirty Dozen” list. As a matter of fact, they have the distinction of being at the top of the list followed by celery and red peppers. But here is the rub: Most of the apples that were tested did indeed contain detectable levels of pesticide residue. 

However, Joseph Schwarcz, director of the Office for Science and Society at McGill University in Montreal, Canada, essentially stated that just because that pesticide residue is present doesn't mean it is a risk to one’s health. Apparently, there isn’t much evidence found that proves that it is. 

The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) maintains a database on their test findings and their data reveals that only of the 744 apple samples they tested had a pesticide residue level higher than what the government allows. As a matter of fact, most were far below the maximum level. 

They even began testing baby food and had the same results with that product.

Those traces were found in jarred baby food containing green beans in pears, but once again the traces were very small and they were far below the permissible level. 

Despite the testing results of the USDA, the EWG’s guide to shopping urges consumers to seek out and shop for organic food. Bear in mind; simply because a produce item is organic doesn’t mean it is pesticide-free.

And of course, there are natural pesticides that are commonly used by organic farmers and gardeners.This produce most likely has a far lower amount of pesticide residues than conventionally grown produce but it certainly doesn’t mean that no pesticides were used. However, you can lower both you and your flock’s exposure to any pesticides found on the produce because if it is on the organic variety, there will indeed be less of it. 

The EWG was a bit more conservative in 2010 when they stated that consumers could lower their exposure to pesticide exposure if they simply avoided produce and products on the “Dirty Dozen” list. 

Then in 2011, a study by two food scientists from the University of California published in the Journal of Toxicology it stated that changing your lifestyle to include only organic food in your diet and eschewing the convention stuff really didn’t have any effect on one’s health. It didn’t hurt you, but it simply didn’t have any effect at all. Their findings simply didn’t indicate lead to any measurable health benefit for consumers. This is due to the fact that a cabbage is a cabbage and it contains the same levels of nutrition in it whether or not it is grown organically or by conventional methods.


While their opinions differ widely in whether or not pesticides residue is harmful, they do agree on one thing: they don't want you to stop eating fruits and vegetables

The Environmental Protection Agency is one of the agencies that oversee the regulation of pesticide levels in produce. One of their jobs is to ensure that these levels do not exceed the government established limits in order to ensure that they remain safe to eat. These pesticide residues tend to lower over time as the pesticide breaks down. They will also greatly diminish when produce is washed before being packaged and sold. So by the time it hits the grocery store or farmer’s market, these residues are, for the most part, way below what is legally allowed. 

But there still might be some of this residue remaining on the food you just brought home even if it is organic produce.

Here are some tips that will help you reduce your exposure to these pesticide residues as well as to your pet birds:

Variety Helps

Serve your birds and your family a wide variety of fruits and vegetables to minimize exposure to one single type of pesticide. Different types of pesticides are used on different types of produce, so widening the array of produce that you feed to your flock ensures that they are not being heavily exposed to any one particular chemical. 

Wash All Produce

Wash all of your produce including organic produce even if it appears clean. They even suggest that you wash produce that you intend to peel such as bananas and oranges.  

Use Running Water

Wash your vegetables under running water. Soaking it in standing water doesn’t remove the residue from the water. Rather, the vegetables are simply soaking in a bath of water that has diluted pesticide residue still in it. You want the residue to go down the drain. 

Scrub Produce Well

Dry your produce off with a soft, clean cloth or paper towels when it is practical. Scrub firmer, more sturdy produce such as beets as well as other root vegetables with a vegetable brush or other stiff brush. Apparently, the scrubbing action is what removes the most rescue from the produce. 

Peel Outer Layers Of Leafy Greens

Peel off the outer layers of vegetables such as cabbage as well as lettuce. 

Peel All Produce

Peel all fruits and vegetables whenever possible. Obviously, this isn’t practical with many types of produce, but just do the best you can. 

Grow Your Own

Consider growing your own garden and sprouting your own sprouts. There are community gardens springing up all over the country. Doing a search on Google may turn up one near you. Container gardening is quite fun if you are lacking in space. These methods of lowering your flock and family’s  pesticide exposure because you have control over the soil you grow them in as well as the products you use on the plants. 

If these methods aren’t possible, locating a farmer’s market or organic produce store might ensure that your pesticide exposure is reduced.

While there doesn’t seem to be any evidence that consuming pesticide residue along with fruits and vegetables is harmful, it might not be something you’d want to feed your pet bird or your family. Using the methods suggested will go a long way in reducing exposure to these chemicals.