Hey honeys, I have some bad news. You know how your lovely fresh fruit and veg comes with a “wash before eating” addendum? The results are in, and rinsing your healthy goods under the tap won’t do shit to save you from the plague of pesticides.
Luckily, some very nice scientists have studied how to effectively remove the poison from your produce.
What are my options?
The basic methods available for pesticide removal are:
- Giving your produce a good scrub under your chlorinated kitchen tap (as per the directions on the packet)
- Soaking your fruit and veg in a vinegar/water solution for a good 15 minutes or;
- Soaking your produce in a bicarb soda/water solution for 15 minutes.
What is the best method?
Not water. A 2008 review discovered that tap water reduces residue of five different pesticides by a pathetic 20 per cent. The commercial chlorine produce wash suppliers use produces much the same results, as evidenced by a study by the Connecticut Agricultural Experiment Station. You may get better results when using distilled or filtered water, especially when giving them a several-minute soak as opposed to the industry-standard two-minute rinse.
Meanwhile, a reputable study looking at the effectiveness of a vinegar solution is extremely difficult to find. Some researchers looked at the effectiveness of vinegar (plus 4 other alternatives) for removing a cauliflower pesticide, and vinegar didn’t do so great (But guess what did? Tamarind Juice. Delicious and detoxing). A Brazilian study on tomato pesticides found that depending upon the pesticide used, vinegar solutions or bicarb soda solutions worked well, so it’s not a total loss for those that promote apple cider vinegar as a cure-all.
And on the topic of bicarb soda: Researchers from the University of Massachusetts found soaking your pesticide-laden produce in a water and bicarb soda solution for 15 minutes can potentially degrade and remove almost every trace of poison from the surface of your fruit.
Am I pesticide free now?
All scientific studies have limitations; the baking soda study mentioned above, for example, only tested two pesticides, thiabendazole and phosmet, on apples, and there are over 100 potential pesticides that may linger on your produce.
There’s further bad news; some fruit and veg (including apples and organically grown crops) soak chemicals into their skin and flesh, making complete pesticide removal an utter impossibility.
BUT! Prepping your food can genuinely make a difference; peeling your produce removes a lot of contamination (as well as vitamins and minerals, sadly) while cooking further degrades many pesticides.
So, sorry, raw vegans, pesticides aren’t that easily washed away. You’d better start finding spray-free produce if you haven’t already.
As for everyone else, happy eating!
This article was written by Tamara Kenna, Dreamland’s resident health reporter. If you’ve got a topic you’d like to see Tamara investigate, drop us a Facebook message!