In an ideal world we wouldn’t have to worry about chemicals in our fruits and vegetables. We would all be producing our own food or organic food would be priced cheaper or a chemical-free way to keep produce fresh would be discovered. But in a not so ideal world, food-grade waxes and harsh pesticides coat the majority of produce people purchase everyday. A quick rinse in water won’t get rid of the waxy coating or the pesticides. If pesticides were water soluble, farmers would have to apply them after every single rain or dewy morning, a very expensive and labor intensive job.
Toxic Chemicals Found in Everyday Produce
Pesticides and other poisonous chemicals used in growing produce could be putting young children at risk of developing cancer in later life, say scientists. Pre-school children are in particular danger of exposure to the dangerous compounds like arsenic, lead and mercury, pesticides chlorpyrifos, permethrin and endosulfan, persistent organic pollutants dioxin, DDT, dieldrin and chlordane and the food processing byproduct acrylamide, which a U.S. study found exceeding safety consumption benchmarks.
Among the many negative effects of pesticides, research has found that these chemicals can lead to cancer, birth defects, infertility, kidney failure among others. BT toxins are killing human embryo cells while RoundUp and glyphosate are leading to a kidney disease epidemic in poor farming regions. Startling evidence on this is forcing many to oppose GMO crops and trying organic produce.
Natural Food Cleansers for Fruits and Vegetables
When you are forced to buy produce that you can’t specifically label as toxic-free, what options are we left with to safeguard our family’s health from these deadly poisons?
Well even though man has corrupted nature for his own gains, Mother nature still provides solutions to help him recover from his mistakes. Here are some natural food cleansers to wash your daily food before it can enter your system and create havoc:
. Vinegar water mixture: Take 1 cup of water with 1/2 cup of white distilled vinegar. Mix them together in a bowl and submerge the fruit or vegetables. Soak and scrub for at least thirty seconds. Finish it off by washing them with tap water for 10-15 seconds.
. Lemon spray: Mix 1 tablespoon of lemon juice with 2 tablespoons of baking soda in a cup of water. You can pour this in a spray bottle and spritz some liquid on your produce, let it sit for 5-10 minutes; then wash it off in water.
. Lemon-Vinegar wash: Mix 1 tablespoon of lemon juice with 2 tablespoons of white vinegar (distilled works well) in a cup (250ml) water. You can use this as a spray or a wash.
. For waxy fruits or vegetables: Mix a cup (250ml) water, half a cup (115ml) vinegar, 1 tablespoon baking soda and a dash of grapefruit seed extract. Spray this on the produce, leave for an hour before rinsing and eating.
. Activated charcoal: Alternatively you can also use activated charcoal, lemon juice, bicarbonate of soda and food grade hydrogen peroxide to your water and wash produce in this solution.
These natural cleansers will remove the artificial high-gloss shine and replace it with a healthy glow. Be warned that once you remove all the chemical junk, this may shorten the shelf life of the produce, so don’t wash all the produce you eat for a month. Only rinse before eating or a day’s produce. You must also NOT leave produce soaking in any vinegar based washes for a long time as the vinegar might eat them away.
Ways to clean your food:
. Use a bristle brush to scrub and wash produce.
. Brush the nooks and crannies of fruits like strawberries as they may contain bugs and pesticides.
. Cross-contamination from knife to the cutting board and into the flesh of the fruit is very probable; hence wash fruits like mango and cantaloupe even though you are not eating their skins.
The Dirty Dozen
The “Dirty Dozen” is a group of foods classified by the Environmental Working Group as those having the highest pesticide exposure. You must buy organic types as much as possible. However, if conventionally grown is your only choice, make sure you are thoroughly washing the produce with one of the natural produce washes listed above.
- Cherry tomatoes
- Hot peppers
- Nectarines (imported)
- Sweet bell peppers
- Kale/collard greens
- Summer squash
The Clean Fifteen
The “Clean Fifteen” are foods that are least exposed to pesticides. If you can’t buy all organic produce, these are okay to purchase as conventionally grown produce. However, several of them are known to be GMO. This means, they need the least amount of pesticides but also may carry a higher chance of health risks associated with GMO produce. So read the labels well:
- Sweet Corn
- Sweet Peas
- Sweet Potatoes
Stay One step ahead:
Things change rapidly in the agricultural world. What worked for producers of one vegetable last year may not work this year, or the popularity of certain pesticides may diminish. Due to this, knowledge about heavily contaminated crops should be open. Staying abreast of what’s being used on your produce will help you make the better decisions while purchasing fruits and vegetables for your family. It’s always better to buy produce from your local farmer than buying produce that has traveled miles in a carton.