We are constantly being told to consume more fruits and vegetables as part of a healthy diet, but if you are not buying organic produce then you may already know that your food has been sprayed. Non organic produce is sprayed with pesticides, and small amounts of some pesticide residue can remain on or in our food. Some fruits and vegetables are more heavily sprayed than others and as a result they have a higher potential of having more pesticide residue. You may be aware that pesticides pose risks to human and environmental health and I am sure that you don’t want them on your food!
To help you avoid the most heavily sprayed produce I am going to give you a list containing the most heavily sprayed fruits and vegetables followed by instructions on how to remove pesticide residues from your food.
The list of the most heavily sprayed produce is prepared by the Environmental Working Group (EWG). This group is an American environmental health research organization that aims to create a healthier and cleaner environment for the next generations. They have released their annual Shopper’s Guide to Pesticides for 2015 in which they rate conventional foods with the most and least pesticide residues. This enables the shoppers to reduce their dietary exposures to pesticides by purchasing organically-produced fruits and vegetables instead.
When we talk about these chemicals, we don’t talk just about one or two substances. EWG mention in their report that a single grape sample and a sweet bell pepper sample contained 15 pesticides, and that single samples of cherry tomatoes, nectarines, peaches, imported snap peas and strawberries showed 13 different pesticides apiece!
The fruits and veggies with the MOST pesticides are:
8. Sweet bell peppers
10. Cherry tomatoes
11. Snap peas – imported
13. Hot Peppers
14. Kale / Collard greens
The fruits and veggies with the Least pesticides are:
2. Sweet corn
5. Frozen sweet peas
15. Sweet potatoes
As more studies are being done to understand the full impact of pesticides on our body, we need to minimize our exposure to these substances. The best option would be of course to buy organic produce. Organic produce is more expensive but this is the safest option. Or at least buy organically those fruits and vegetables that have the highest pesticides residue.
If you cannot get organic produce in your area, some people recommend to peel the skin off fruits and vegetables when possible. If you don’t want to lose essential nutrients that are found in the skin, what you can do is thoroughly wash all fruits and vegetables before eating them by using warm water and mild dish washing liquid. For produce like potatoes, turnips, carrots, apples, cucumbers and the like, you can also use a firm scrub brush to remove wax and bacteria. After that, soak the fruits and vegetables in a homemade solution to remove pesticide residue. This can be made by mixing one teaspoon of sea salt per cup of water, or by diluting vinegar with water. Vinegar helps kill bacteria and viruses and helps break down the wax that sometimes coats the produce. Mix equal parts of water and white vinegar and soak the produce for 15-20 minutes and then rinse.
There are also commercial organic produce cleaners developed specifically to break down and remove waxes and other sealants holding pesticides on the food. Read the labels of these sanitizing agents to make sure they 100% natural and botanical.
Another option is to start and grow your own fruits and vegetables if you have the space and time for it. This way you know exactly what you goes into your body.
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