Sweet Corn: The Picnic Essential with Low Pesticide Exposure

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With barbeque season still in full swing, we thought we’d highlight one of everyone’s favorite BBQ sides: corn on the cob! You might be surprised that sweet corn offers some great nutritional benefits and that it’s got a very low pesticide rating from the Environmental Working Group (EWG). In fact, sweet corn made this year’s clean 15 list!

That’s great news for those who enjoy the experience of corn on the cob but want to avoid the pesticides that are typically associated with other types of corn these days.


What is the “Clean 15” list?

The EWG site explains why sweet corn made the list and highlights some of the other produce goodies you can pick up if you can’t buy organic:

EWG’s Clean Fifteen™ list of produce least likely to hold pesticide residues consists of avocados, sweet corn, pineapples, cabbage, frozen sweet peas, onions, asparagus, mangoes, papayas, kiwis, eggplant, grapefruit, cantaloupe, cauliflower and sweet potatoes. Relatively few pesticides were detected on these foods, and tests found low total concentrations of pesticides on them.

You can actually find their full ranked list of popular fruits and vegetables here. They’re ordered by most to least likely to have pesticides residues. Notice that sweet corn is right near the bottom of the list next to avocados, which have virtually no pesticides on them at all.

The list is great to print out and carry with you, as it can act as a guide for you as you learn more about finding and shopping for food with less pesticides. For instance, when shopping for organic produce on a budget, it’s great to know that to get more bang for your buck, you may want to focus on organic apples rather than organic avocados, which have hardly no pesticide residue. Also, if there’s no organic section at your store and you plan on bringing a side dish to a BBQ, conventionally grown cabbage as a slaw would be a better bet than kale — based on pesticide exposure. The more you know, the healthier choices you can make.

Sweet yellow corn on cob with leaves and husk

Sweet yellow corn on cob with leaves and husk


Surprising nutritional benefits of sweet corn:

Corn on the cob isn’t typically known for being all that healthy, but it actually packs a great punch of Vitamin C — it provides 17% of your daily value! It’s also a great source of thiamin (21%), folate (18%), magnesium (14%), and phosphorus (14%). Sweet corn is also a great choice to boost your fiber intake needs — it provides you with 17% of your recommended daily value.


Healthy sweet corn recipes you’ll love to share:

Use olive oil instead of butter with this delicious garlic-y version of corn on the cob from Eating Well.

Three easy ways to grill your corn on the cob from Serious Eats.

Love toppings? Try these 6 different ideas to really change up a classic.

Next time you make a colorful garden salad, mix up some room temperature sweet corn into your salad. It adds sweetness, beautiful color, and extra texture.

Whether you try these unique recipes that feature corn on the cob or just appreciate its simplicity, you can enjoy sweet corn all summer long. Enjoy with confidence knowing that it’s not going to expose you and your family to a cocktail of chemicals.

The next time you pass sweet corn in the store, pick up some extra ears for an easy and healthy side dish everyone will adore.


Nutritional Data on corn: http://nutritiondata.self.com/facts/vegetables-and-vegetable-products/2972/2

Environmental Working Group: http://www.ewg.org/foodnews/list.php


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