Limiting pesticide exposure from produce
Consumers should not wash fruits and vegetables with detergent or soap. These products are not approved or labeled by the Food and Drug Administration for use on foods. You could ingest residues from soap or detergent absorbed on the produce.
- Buy as many fruits and vegetables as you can organically. Chemical pesticides and fertilizers are not used on organic produce.
- Check out the Environmental Working Groups Shopper’s Guide to Pesticides in Foods. You can determine which produce has the highest levels of pesticide residue and choose to buy them organically or avoid them. You can also determine which produce has the lowest amount and serve them more frequently.
- Choose frozen or canned fruits and vegetables over fresh. I know this sounds contradictory to what we’ve been taught about fresh produce being the healthiest, but in research on the USDA website, I found this one piece of information from a study titled USDA Pesticide Data Program. (Note that they cite canned green beans and spinach as exceptions — there may be other exceptions not mentioned.)
"Generally, samples with detectable pesticide residues were less abundant in processed foods where extensive washing, processing and /or heating is expected to remove or reduce residues. Notable exceptions of canned green beans and canned spinach demonstrate that some residues are more tolerant of processing than others presumably based on the chemical stability."
- Based on the previous information about extensive washing, processing and/or heating, it seems that thorough washing of the surface of fruits and vegetables before eating may be helpful. A solution of one part vinegar to nine parts water is often recommended as a natural produce wash. Wash thoroughly and scrub with a vegetable scrubber. Be aware that pourus fruits and vegetables may take on a vinegar taste/odor.
- It also seems as if perhaps boiling vegetables and fruit may be helpful also, but I don’t think there is enough information there to really draw that conclusion.
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