Although it’s important to wash produce thoroughly before eating it, washing may not be enough to remove chemical and pesticide residues. Here’s why.
Attention is being more and more focused on the potential health effects of pesticide residues found on conventionally grown produce. Due to health concerns, many people are turning to organic produce to continue to enjoy the health benefits of veggies and fruits without the exposure to harmful chemicals. Others are making the decision to buy conventional produce to save money in the belief that chemical residues can be removed with a thorough produce washing. Which view is correct? Can pesticide residues be removed by thoroughly washing produce?
Although it’s always a wise choice to thoroughly wash produce to remove superficial dirt as well as reduce the risk of contracting a bacterial illness such as Salmonella, even a thorough produce washing is unlikely to completely remove all chemical residue and pesticides. The problem is that most pesticides and chemicals have the capability of penetrating the skin of the fruit and contaminating the inside. Since you can’t remove chemical residues that have penetrated to the interior of the fruit or vegetable, you’ll still have potential exposure to harmful pesticides. Unfortunately, over seventy percent of conventional produce samples have traces of pesticides and chemical residues.
Recently, commercial produce washes have entered the market which claim to remove chemical residues better than ordinary water. While these produce washes may be effective at removing surface pesticides, they’re unlikely to be effective at cleaning the interior of the fruit or vegetable. Although a thorough cleaning of the outside of the fruit or vegetable will remove some of the dangerous chemicals, it’s not foolproof. Plus, use of a commercial produce wash is probably no better than using a diluted solution of vinegar which is cheap and easy to make at home. Peeling the fruit or vegetable will also likely reduce but not eliminate exposure to pesticides.
A better way to reduce your exposure if you’re unable to buy all organic is to purchase the most highly sprayed fruits and vegetables organically grown and continue to buy conventional fruits and vegetables for the remainder. Fruits and vegetables with a high potential for pesticide residues include spinach, peaches, bell peppers, nectarines, strawberries, pears, grapes, cherries, lettuce, potatoes, celery, and pears. Other fruits and vegetables that you buy in conventional form should be thoroughly washed and peeled to remove surface chemical residues.
By adding these additional measures to your produce washing routine, you can reduce your exposure to pesticides and chemical residues by up to ninety percent. It’s a small price to pay to protect the health of you and your family.