Pesticides On Foods Aren't Going Away Anytime Soon, But Here's What You Can Do About It
Last month, the Hawaiian island of Kauai passed a bill strictly limiting how and where large farms and biotech companies can spray pesticides. Bill 2491 will force agricultural companies to disclose when and where they spray pesticides, restrict spraying to a certain distance away from public areas, and disclose what genetically engineered crops they grow.
Perhaps Bill 2491 will be the beginning of a movement across the United States to further limit pesticide use, which, according to a report published in Environmental Sciences Europe last year, increased by 404 million pounds from 1996 to 2011.
Until then, the sad truth is pesticides are everywhere: the air, the water, and your food, and they’ve been linked to birth defects, poisoning deaths and a wide range of illnesses.
So here are some reminders on how to mitigate the pesticides covering your fruit and vegetables, and which produce are the most (and least!) pesticide-residue prone.
1. Wash Your Food, All of It, and Wash It Right
Thoroughly wash all your produce. No, rubbing the apple on your shirt before biting in is not enough. According to the National Pesticide Information Center, even organic foods and foods that you peel should first be washed. The NPIC recommends that you wash your produce under running water rather than dunking or soaking it. Scrub produce with tough skin, like melons or potatoes. In addition, dry your fruits and vegetables with a towel.
2. Stick With The Insides
3. Mix It Up
4. Grow Your Own
vegetables that can be grown indoors, such as tomatoes, mushrooms, peppers and eggplants. Got a windowsill? Cool, now you’ve got a vegetable garden.
5. Eat Organic -- It’s Easier Than You Think
6. Be Wary When Buying These
Environmental Working Group (EWG) releases its “Dirty Dozen” list of the 12 foods found to be most contaminated with pesticide residues. The organization ranks 48 fruits and vegetables based on thousands of samples tested by the USDA and FDA. These tests are done after produce is washed and peeled, giving the consumer an idea of which produce maintain higher levels of toxicity even after proper precautions. Topping the Dirty Dozen list are apples (99% of apples test positive for some pesticide residue), celery, cherry tomatoes, cucumbers, grapes (a single grape tested positive for 15 pesticide residues), hot peppers, imported nectarines (every single nectarine sampled in the test came up positive for pesticide residue), peaches, potatoes, spinach, strawberries and sweet bell peppers.
7. And Buy More Of These
Clean Fifteen” list of the fruits and vegetables with the least pesticide residue. Their favorite low-pesticide fruits and vegetables include asparagus, avocados, cabbage, cantaloupe, sweet corn, eggplant, grapefruit, kiwi, mangos and mushrooms. Remember -- that doesn’t mean these items had no pesticide residue, just less.