With around 70% of U.S. produce having been sprayed with pesticides and 9 in 10 Americans having pesticide residue in their bodies, poisonous chemicals being applied on our food is an ever-growing problem. The good news is that just by washing fruit and veggies off, you could get rid of up to 80% of pesticide residues; and there are other methods that are even more effective.
How Bad Are Pesticides for My Health?
There are more than 17,000 pesticide products out there and hundreds of studies warning against the long-term health risks of pesticide use for growing our food. Repeat exposure to chemical fertilizers, herbicides, pesticides, fungicides, and CO may lead to negative developmental effects in children from their mothers’ wombs, cancer (liver, pancreas, brain, skin, lung, and breast cancers are the most common types of cancer linked to long-term exposure to pesticides), and reduced fertility.
The bad news is that the kidneys and liver cannot get rid of all the pesticides we ingest. Many of these toxic chemicals are stored in the body’s fat deposits, which can lead to impressive build-ups throughout young adult life and serious health issues later on.
Keep in mind that the brain is the “fattiest” organ in your body (60%) so think about the long-term effects of pesticides on your or your kids’ cognitive function. That’s why many weight loss experts recommend pairing dieting with detox since weight loss prompts the release of stored toxins from fat cells back into the body.
The Clean 15 and the Dirty Dozen
According to consumer advocacy group EWG, not all fruit and veggies are sprayed equally with pesticides. There are the so-called “Clean 15,” namely those fruit and vegetables that carry the lowest pesticide load, and the “Dirty Dozen,” namely crops that are sprayed into oblivion with pesticides unless they are organic.
The EWG update their list every year:
The Dirty Dozen (2020): Strawberries, Spinach, Kale, Nectarines, Apples, Grapes, Peaches, Cherries, Pears, Tomatoes, Celery, and Potatoes
The Clean Fifteen (2020): Avocados, Sweet corn, Pineapple, Onions, Papaya, Sweet peas (frozen), Eggplants, Asparagus, Cauliflower, Cantaloupes, Broccoli, Mushrooms, Cabbage, Honeydew melon, Kiwi. For more food trivia and other interesting facts, check out Home Chef World weblog.
Tips for Washing Fresh Produce
1)If it’s labeled “organic” it doesn’t mean that you don’t need to wash it. Organic produce doesn’t mean “pesticide-free” as farmers are still allowed by some states to spray their crops. Plus, there’s the issue of bacteria and other pathogens on the produce from the hands of buyers and people handling the produce. So, wash your organic produce too.
2)Around 40% of people believe that washing produce under cold water should be enough to remove pesticides. In fact, just 70% to 80% of pesticides are removed this way and only if you scrub the veggies dutifully. What’s more, many pesticides get into the peel of the produce, so using just running water won’t do the trick.
3)Wash the produce before you peel cut, or chop it to prevent harmful pesticides from getting transferred onto the knife or the produce.
4)Don’t wash the produce as soon as you get home unless you want it to spoil lightning fast.
5)Soak fresh produce in saltwater. New research suggests that keeping fruit and veggies in a 2% saltwater solution for 20 minutes should help remove most contact pesticides from the peel.
6)Give produce a vinegar soak. Soaking fresh produce in a vinegar solution can remove 80 to 90% of pesticide residue. Add 1 part vinegar to 4 parts tap water and let the veggies soak for 20 minutes. Rinse off.
7)Baking soda can neutralize pesticides. Giving your produce a quick bath in a baking soda solution can fix most of your pesticide problems. Baking soda can neutralize a couple of the most used pesticides. Just add 2 teaspoons of baking soda to 1 quart of clean water and let the produce soak for 12 to 15 minutes. Make sure that the fruit or veggies stay fully submerged. Rinse off.