Practical Tips for Pesky Pesticides
With the explosion of fruits and vegetables on the grocery store shelves every summer, the subject of pesticides is never far behind. According to a BioScience study from 1992, for every dollar spent on pesticides we save four dollars worth of crops! It’s also only due to pesticides that we can enjoy marvelous strawberries all summer long. With benefits like that, it’s not time to throw out all the pesticides just yet. But as smart consumers, we should all be aware of what goes into our making our food and how it affects our health.
Whatever the circumstances, if you’re worried about the quality of your produce, here are some practical tips you can follow to make your food a little cleaner from pesticides.
For similar articles, check out: For the Love of Farmers Markets, The EWG’s Dirty Dozen, 8 Foods You Should Buy Organic, How to Start a Vegetable Garden, 8 Recipes Directly From Your Garden, A Guide to Summer Produce, 5 Tips for Creating a Fresh and Healthy Garden
Be aware: The first duty of a responsible consumer is to be aware of what is in the foods she eats and how it affects her health. For pesticides in produce, this means keeping up on the Environmental Working Group’s (EWG) Dirty Dozen™ and Clean Fifteen™. These are lists of the fruits and vegetables that contain the highest and lowest levels of pesticides, respectively. For 2013, the Dirty Dozen™ are apples, celery, cherry tomatoes, cucumbers, grapes, hot peppers, imported nectarines, peaches potatoes, spinach, strawberries and sweet bell peppers. The 2013 Clean Fifteen™ include asparagus, avocados, cabbage, cantaloupe, sweet corn, eggplant, grapefruit, kiwi, mangos, mushrooms, onions, papayas, pineapples, frozen sweet peas and sweet potatoes.
Soap it up: According to the New York Times, the best way to clean produce of microorganisms and germs is to first rinse the fruit or vegetable with diluted vinegar. A few drops of liquid dish soap also work to wash away stubborn dirt.
Wash it off: Gently scrub at the skin of your fruit or vegetable under running water for one minute to get rid of the excess pesticides clinging the surface. Tap water works just fine for this part.
Peel the deal: Peeling the skin of off a fruit is another great way to remove pesticides from your meal. Peaches, pears and apples are good choices for peeling, but because some pesticides can penetrate the skin of a fruit, even peeling may not totally rid the fruit of pesticide residues.
Grow at home: Starting a garden at home is a great way to ensure your fruits and vegetables stay clean of pesticides. Even a small plot in the backyard can yield a surprising amount of food over the course of a summer. Some of the easier foods to grow at home include bell peppers, green beans, cucumbers and spinach.
Buy organic: As scary as the Dirty Dozen list seems, the EWG isn’t trying to scare anyone off strawberries or apples for good. In fact, the benefits of continuing to eat commercially grown fruits and vegetables far outweigh the costs that may come with consuming trace amounts of pesticides. But in identifying the foods most contaminated by pesticides for the public, the EWG us about which foods are best to buy organic. If you’d like to avoid pesticides entirely in you diet and it works with your budget, organic may be the best way to go.
Do you have any tips of your own about consuming produce or avoiding pesticides? Share with us in the comments!