The Snack Food Called “The Most-Contaminated with Pesticides”

April 22, 2017

This popular snack food has been called the “most contaminated with pesticides and other chemicals” by the FDA. Can you guess what it is? It’s popcorn, and it’s probably in your pantry right now!

The good news is that there are a lot of safer brands to buy out there. Watch the video, or take a look at the show notes below to find out what to be on the lookout for.

Show Notes (Read the show notes for highlights, or skip to the minutes listed on the video to listen to certain sections):



  • This popular snack food has been called the “most contaminated with pesticides and other chemicals” by the FDA, according to its own 2003 Total Diet Study. It’s popcorn!
  • 38 insecticides, 40 herbicides, 4 fumigants,15 fungicides, plus 6 other “miscellaneous” chemicals, all approved for use in nonorganic popcorn.


  • Safer brands to buy – starting with “ready-to-eat” popcorn.
    • Angie’s BoomChickaPop, O Organics, Sage Valley Lite Organic Popcorn, Trader Joe’s Organic Popcorn with Olive Oil
    • Labels and ingredients change quickly, and there are many other good brands out there. Just make sure to check labels carefully.


  • Safer brands to buy – kernels.
    • If you like the kernels, you like to pop your own popcorn, here’s some more brands.
    • Trader Joe’s, Great Northern,Eden Organic, Now Foods, and Arrowhead Mills.
    • If you are going to do the popping, one of my favorite tips for popcorn is to use an air popper. Not only are they quick and easy to use, but you don’t have to use oil with them. We all know that oil can be unhealthy, so it’s just a healthier popcorn without it.
      • I also have a free cheat sheet with some healthy toppings for your popcorn, and you can grab it at the link below. You’ll also get this list of healthier popcorn brands, so I recommend downloading the cheat sheet for your phone so you can have it handy with you while shopping.


  • Why you should not use microwave popcorn, even if it’s organic. 
  • One of the biggest reasons is toxic fumes.
    • Fumes are created from the artificial butter, called diacetyl, which is also known as “Popcorn Lung.” This creates lung scarring and inflammation, which can lead to difficulty in breathing or even death. This illness has commonly occurred in popcorn factory workers, but has also occurred in homes where microwave popcorn is frequently consumed. The diacetyl vaporizes throughout the air as it’s heating.


  • Other toxic fumes are also created. 
    • The lining of the bag contains The bag lining contains PFAs, a component of Teflon and non-stick pans, that is considered to be cancer-causing, and has been linked to thyroid, liver, kidney, and reproductive issues.


  • GMO Contamination Concerns
    • The type of corn used to make popcorn is not genetically modified, so while the popcorn itself is not genetically modified, the ingredients in the microwave popcorn most likely are (corn oil, soy oil, or soy lecithin).


  • To review:
  • Popcorn is ranked by the FDA as one of the most contaminated with pesticides.
  • There are 103 different chemicals, including insecticides, herbicides, fungicides, and fumigants listed in the Agri-Chemical Handbook for use on non-organic popcorn.
  • If you’re going to use popcorn kernels, use an air popper so you don’t have to cook with oil.
  • Do not use microwave popcorn. That is probably my biggest tip, even if it’s organic.


  • Get the free cheat sheet I created, and download it to your phone.
    • It contains a list of the safer brands to buy, plus popcorn toppings that are different that are healthy and taste great.
    • Download it to your phone to keep handy while shopping.

(Because this based off a transcript from a Facebook Live video, I do not have a list of sources. If you would like a list of my sources used in this video, please contact me).