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Produce and Pesticides

The knowledge that pesticide residues are found in some of our foods and store in our systems no doubt lends to some extra scrubbing and rinsing when it comes to the produce department.

If what is on your salad plate is of concern to you, then it is likely you have heard of the dirty dozen produce list, which showcases apples as the pesticide winner. The Environmental Working Group (EWG) has currently added to this list, now reinstating it as the Dirty Dozen Plus in order to accommodate new categories of green beans and leafy green produce that contain high levels of pesticide concentrations.

Decade long residual testing done by the Food and Drug Administration and the United States Department of Agriculture ending in 2010, showed that 68% of the food crops from the United States that were sampled contained pesticide deposits. The samples were washed before being tested in order to be representative of the finished product when it is consumed. According to EWG, 98% of the apples that were tested contained residue, and it was discovered that grapes had more overall pesticides than any fruit, finding 64 different varieties of chemicals on them, even after being washed. (Mother Earth News).

Pesticide residuals, which can also be found in water sources and drinking water, seem to be everywhere. There have been detectable levels in some juices, and appallingly, have also been found in baby food supplies.

Though some experts claim that minute traces of pesticide in our food may not be harmful in actuality, who wants a small side of insect killer with their lunch?  Clearly, we are not going to stop eating fruits and vegetables because of their health benefits, but there are steps that will help ensure you are eating more produce and less toxins.

Wash all products thoroughly with mild, food safe soap and rinse well. With waxy skinned produce like apples or cucumbers, it is a good idea to rub while washing in order to remove the wax build up it may have been coated with. These waxes are placed on fruits and vegetables in order to make them appear fresher and prolong their shelf life, and sometimes can contain traces of chemicals.

Also, rinse things you might not think of before consuming, like oranges, tangerines, potatoes or other items in which the peel is discarded. Even though you are not eating the outer skin, it can still be coated with a residual cocktail you don’t want to ingest or contaminate your cutlery with.

Consider buying regulated organic baby foods and produce that is known to be high in residuals, like apples and celery. And of course, buy local when you can. Local produce travels less, therefore requiring fewer preservative treatments to keep them fresh until arriving on your table.

Sustenance is what fuels us, and when we learn about harmful ingredients in foods we thought were completely healthy, it can be daunting and seem counterproductive. Regarding produce, a little awareness goes a long way.

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