As I gather information about intentional eating I realize that I need to prioritize things if I’m going to stay within my $60 per week budget. Is organic produce really necessary? Are there alternatives? One good way to make these decisions is to know which types of produce has the highest pesticide residues and which do not.
Why should I care about pesticide consumption?
A pesticide is a mixture of chemical substances used on farms to destroy or prevent pests, diseases and weeds from affecting crops. According to scientists, they can cause lasting damage to human health and we should minimize our consumption. You can reduce your exposure to pesticides by up to 80 percent by buying the organic version of the Dirty Dozen.
What is the “Dirty Dozen”?
A list of fruits and vegetables believed to be most susceptible to contain pesticides because they have soft skin. They contain 47 to 67 pesticides per serving. The List: Celery, Peaches, Strawberries, Apples, Domestic Blueberries, Nectarines, Sweet Bell Peppers, Spinach, Kale and Collard Greens, Cherries, Potatoes, Imported Grapes, Lettuce
What about all of the other produce?
Not all non-organic fruits and vegetables have a high pesticide level. Some produce has a strong outer layer that provides a defense against pesticide contamination.
What is the “Clean 15″?
Non-organice fruits and vegetables that contained little to no pesticides. The List: Onions, Avocados, Sweet corn, Pineapples, Mango, Sweet Peas, Asparagus, Kiwi Fruit, Cabbage, Eggplant, Cantaloupe, Watermelon, Grapefruit, Sweet Potatoes, Sweet onions.
What if I can’t afford to buy organic?
Agricultural pesticides do not come off with water alone (or farmers would not use them). If you can’t afford organic and you can’t grow your own (grapes just won’t grow in NC!) here are a few tips to make your produce as healthy as possible:
Wash your produce.
- Detergent- Add antibacterial liquid soap to water and generously swish the product around for a couple of minutes.
- Vinegar- This is great for removing bacteria and may help break down wax too. The quickest way to do this at home is to keep a bottle with 3 water: 1 vinegar with a spray top. Simply spray the fruit or vegetables with vinegar and rinse. If you have time, you can also soak the produce for 10-20 minutes.
- Buy a Fruit & Vegetable Wash from Trader Joe’s or Amazon.
Peel your produce. This is often the best way to substantially reduce the pesticide load. Just be sure to wash the fruit or vegetables well before peeling, or you can transfer pesticides (or bacteria) to the peeled product.
Discard the outer layer. Some pesticides are absorbed through the soil, but much of it is on the outside layer from crop spraying. Eat only the inner layers of produce that you won’t be cooking, such as lettuce, other salad vegetables, and onions.
The best approach: eat a varied diet, rinse all produce and buy organic when possible.