Twenty-nine percent of consumers say they buy less fruits and vegetables due to worries about pesticide residues. Despite the pesticide residue content of produce being regulated and the majority of times registering way below the the safety limit, there are many who are concerned about exposing themselves or their families to these residues. At this point in time, we have no solid evidence that consuming the small amount of pesticides found on foods leads to long-term health effects. However, what we do know is that a diet rich in fruits and vegetables is linked to lower rates of chronic diseases, so intake of fruits and vegetables should not be avoided.
Despite not having any strong evidence that long-term exposure to pesticide residue is harmful, we cannot be certain that they are completely safe. Unfortunately buying organic is not an option for everyone. If buying organic is not available to you, there are ways to decrease your exposure to pesticide residues even when buying non-organic produce. And for those buying organic produce, you may also want to look over these tips as the organic label does not always mean pesticide free.
Wash your produce under cold, running water
Washing your fresh produce under cold running tap water for 30 seconds reduces pesticide residues more so than soaking or using fruit and vegetable washes. Produce washes, as well as vinegar solutions, work best to get rid of surface bacteria but are not generally meant for the elimination of pesticide residues.
While washing, use a scrub brush or rub the surface of the fruits and vegetables with your hands to remove additional residue.
It’s a good idea to wash the produce even if you plan on peeling it. This ensures less pesticide residues get transferred from your hands to the fruit while you are peeling it.
Dry with a paper towel
Drying washed fruits and vegetables with paper towel has been shown to be very effective in removing excess pesticide residue. The friction created by the drying action of the paper towel is believed reduce the unwanted pesticides.
When possible, peel thick fruit and vegetable skins and discard outer layers of lettuce and cabbage. Peeling will help eliminate the pesticide residues that have lodged themselves on the the outer skin of fruits and vegetables. Peeling has been shown to reduce certain pesticide residues from 45.9 to 99%.
Choose a variety of fruits and veggies
Nutrition professionals are always pushing for you to eat a variety of fruits and vegetables. Not only is this wise advice to ensure you receive a wide array of nutrients but it may help limit exposure to a single pesticide. Different pests attack different crops which, in turn, requires the use of different pesticides. By eating a variety of fruits and veggies you’ll potentially avoid being overexposed to a high level of one specific type of pesticide.