Buying organic can be expensive. My strategy is to buy the fruits that use the most pesticides – strawberries, berries organically grown and the others with thick skin or less pesticide non organic. That way I’m lowering my exposure as best as I can within my budget. It has been scientifically proven that baking soda is the most effective way to wash off the residue pesticide.

The basic wash and scrub under tap water will remove some dirt but will not be enough to clean off pesticide residue. A recent study in the Journal Of Agriculture and Food Chemistry compared the effectiveness of three ways of washing to remove pesticide residue – using Clorox bleach, baking soda and tap water. As it turned out, baking soda was the most successful. However, it still has its limitations; it will not remove residue that has been absorbed into the skin or deeper. For example, apples, if pesticide is absorbed into the skin, the baking soda will not go deep enough to clean it. The alternative and budget friendly choice is to peel the skin of the apple – however, you will be losing other important nutrients found in the skin.  The best choice would be to buy organic.

According to consumerreports.org, one should always wash fruits and vegetables as soon as you get it home, don’t wait until you are ready to eat it. The longer pesticides stay on fruits the more they are absorbed and harder to remove. The most effective way to get rid of pesticides is to place in a bowl or sink of water (at least two cups), with one teaspoon of baking soda for two minutes or more, the optimum length of time being 12-15 minutes. The agricultural industry uses various pesticides and the testing used to create these washing instructions may not effectively remove all the kinds used. But there is a consensus that this is one of the best options to cleaning your fruits and veggies.

Leafy vegetables (kale, lettuce, brussel sprouts): remove the outside layers, this will help to remove most of the pesticide residue.

Beware of packaging that states contents are natural or green; there is no standard on which to base these claims. In order to use the term  organic on labels, the produce has to also have the certification of the particular certification body.

Sources:

Shoppers Guide to Pesticides in Produce, EWG

Health Canada

USDA Pesticide Data Programs

Canadian Organic Growers

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