Fruits and vegetables are our lifeblood. These foods are nutrient dense and taste amazing – they have everything we need to keep our bodies healthy and happy. Any time you could use a snack, fruits and veggies are a great idea.
That being said, they can have some unexpected health consequences. While the produce itself is great for human health, farming techniques have made it more difficult to access truly healthy food. The use of pesticides is becoming more common each day, and it isn’t hard to figure out why.
Farmers make their money based on how many crops they sell, not how many they grow. Any produce damaged by insects directly translates into a financial loss for the farmer. So what do they do? They spray their fields with pesticides. This may be great for their bank accounts, but it can be detrimental to consumer health.
According to the Centre for Science and Environment, these chemicals are much more dangerous than most would like to believe. CSE informs consumers that “high levels of chemicals and pesticides can be toxic enough to cause cancer and damage nervous and reproductive systems. It can also disrupt the immunity system of our body.”
Some health-driven consumers have already heard of the dangers of purchasing pesticide-contaminated produce, so they have switched to organic. That solution, however, may not be all it’s cracked up to be. Due to varied requirements for organic labels, that organic fruit may still contain high quantities of pesticides.
So now that you know how prevalent these chemicals are, you know that you can never be too safe. Getting pesticides off your produce is a MUST if you want to live in as healthy a body as possible.
The Environmental Working Group has compiled two lists to help shoppers evaluate the risk of their foods being contaminated by pesticides. Typically produce that is protected by a shell – like an orange in a rhine – can still be safe from most chemicals. In foods where the skin is eaten, however, such as strawberries, pesticides pose a huge threat. Here are the EWG’s two groups of potentially contaminated fruits and veggies. More protected produce has been labeled the “Clean Fifteen” while the less protected foods fall into the “Dirty Dozen.”
Sweet peas (frozen)
Sweet bell pepper
No matter what type of produce you buy, it is never a bad idea to wash it off before eating it. There are two great ways to get as many chemicals as possible off of your food. The first is good old-fashioned scrubbing.
To scrub your fruit clean, fill a large bowl with vinegar and water. Add in the fruits and veggies, keeping the produce and the solution at room temperature. Soak for 15 minutes, give them a little scrub, and pat them dry. You can even give the produce a little extra rinse to ensure you aren’t stuck with a vinegar taste.
The other method is via fruit spray. This product is sold in stores, but it is always better to make it yourself. Mix together 2 tablespoons of white vinegar, a cup of water, and 2 tablespoons of lemon juice. Pour the solution into a spray bottle, and shake well. Spray over each bit of produce you plan to eat, scrub for about 30 seconds, and rinse.
It seems that common access to quality ingredients becomes more limited every year, but you don’t have to give in to the bad health trends. By washing your produce before you eat it, you will at least limit the harmful chemicals that enter your body via your food.