Problems with Pesticides and Washing Your Produce

washing produce

Chances are, even if you’re trying to eat healthy, occasionally, you consume food that has been exposed to pesticides. As the name implies, pesticides kill harmful organisms, such as insects, rodents, and weeds, so they do not eat the crops that the pesticide is sprayed on. However, many people are wondering just how safe these pesticides are for people who eat the food. There is some evidence to suggests that pesticides, in the wrong amounts, can be harmful and even fatal to humans. Therefore, finding ways to cleanse food after the ‘necessary evil’ of pesticides is a top concern.

While the recognition of pesticide ingestion as a problem is clear, what is less so is the best way to clean off pesticides in order to make the food they once protected safer for human consumption. As with many other situations, there are some partially effective solutions and some that make absolutely no difference at all. When it comes to protecting your health, it’s important to be as informed as possible. With that being said, when it comes to getting harmful chemicals off of your fruits and vegetables, there are a number of things you need to keep in mind.

Water Isn’t Enough

rinsing produce
More than likely, you rinse off your apples, pears, and such before you eat them. This will certainly help get the wax off, as well as remove any harmful substances that happen to be on the fruit in question. There’s some truth to this. That being said, it is unrealistic to expect even a thorough washing of three to five minutes or more to remove all of the pesticides present on fruit. Water cannot remove every trace of pesticide from fruit on its own. It’s a good place to start, but generally, effectiveness is dependent on the fruit being washed.

So, if water isn’t enough, then what is? Perhaps you have heard of veggie wash? There are some mixed reviews about it as well. While it is effective at taking care of dirt and wax, there is little to be said about their effectiveness regarding pesticides. In fact, neither the FDA nor USDA recommends switching to veggie wash use. If you decide to switch to a veggie wash, however, you’re better off making your own; not only is the effectiveness questionable, the commercial versions costlier, and may actually seep into the fruit itself, defeating the purpose of washing at all.

Natural Alternative?

Natural Alternative

If water is not enough, and commercial vegetable washes are no good, what is the solution? Well, to listen to the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, the answer is to use sodium bicarbonate, more commonly known as baking soda, in conjunction with water. The largest drawback is that it may take longer than one is willing to wait; in one study, soaking fruits in a water and baking soda solution caused the pesticides being used in the study to break down. While about ten minutes made a major difference, this process took approximately fifteen minutes for the greatest effect.

While that’s well and good, it may be a little early to celebrate. This particular study covered one type of fruit, Gala apples, against the two pesticides phosmet and thiabendazole. While the solution may have proven effective under these circumstances, there is no guarantee that this will be the result regarding all fruits and vegetables when it comes to removing all of the different types of pesticides. Still, this suggests some very promising things when it comes to the world of healthy eating. Keep in mind that pesticides can sometimes seep into fruit too, where washing solutions can’t always reach.