Purging Produce Pesticides

We’re full-on winter here in the Northeast which means that the availability of locally grown vegetables and fruits is significantly decreased. For many, shopping for fresh produce has shifted back to the supermarket from the farmers’ market, leaving us to choose and eat more produce that's likely been treated with pesticides and/or a fungicide to sustain cross-country transport, cold storage, and extended shelf life. Apples and potatoes grown without pesticides can be hard to find this time of year—just two edibles on the the Environmental Working Group’s Dirty Dozen* list of produce that harbors the most pesticide residue.

A U.S. Department of Agriculture funded research study** suggests that washing fruits and vegetables with edible skins in a simple baking soda solution, results in greater pesticide removal than either a commercial produce-wash or tap water. Soak produce for at least two minutes in a water-baking soda solution to remove much of the pesticides, or for 15 minute to reduce 96% of the residues. For every 2 cups of water add 1 teaspoon baking soda.

Although peeling the edible skins from fruits and vegetables is also an effective way to rid of penetrated pesticides, much of the nutrients—including vitamins, minerals, and fiber—will also be lost in the peel. The benefits from eating conventionally-grown produce appear to outweigh the potential pesticide residue exposure risk (as least for adults.) Still, I prefer to minimize regular, pesticide exposure especially for young children.

*Environmental Working Group Dirty Dozen List of Fruits & Vegetables
I do recommend using this baking soda solution for at least EWG’s Dirty Dozen
EWG also has a “Clean Fifteen” list of produce having the least pesticide residue

**Published in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry J. Agric. Food Chem. 2017, 65, 44, 9744-9752

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