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Is there a way to wash the pesticides off fruits and vegetables before we eat them? PDF Print E-mail
Justice News
Saturday, 22 January 2005 17:57

Dear EarthTalk: Is there a way to wash the pesticides off fruits andvegetables before we eat them? -- Michelle, Chalmette, LA

EARTH TALK From the Editors of E/The Environmental Magazine

Many fruits and vegetables sold in the United States today are treated withpesticides, and residues of these potentially harmful chemicals often remain ontheir surfaces. Rinsing all produce thoroughly before eating is always a goodidea, but many pesticides, fungicides and other agricultural chemicals aretrapped under a wax coating that was added to resist water and prolong shelflife. As such, rinsing produce with just plain water is not enough to do thejob. Several companies have developed products that can help.

Organiclean contains extracts from coconut, sugar cane, sugar maple,bilberry, orange and lemon, is completely biodegradable, organic, and is aregistered kosher product. The manufacturer claims that the product is ideal forhard-to-clean produce like strawberries, raspberries, spinach, lettuce andbroccoli. It comes in an 8-ounce plastic spray bottle.

Another option is Veggie-Wash, from Citrus Magic. Made of naturalvegetable-based ingredients from citrus fruit, corn and coconut, and containingno preservatives, Veggie-Wash comes in a 16-ounce spray bottle as well as32-ounce and gallon refills. Meanwhile, Fit Fruit & Vegetable Wash spray ismade from citric acid and grapefruit oil, and claims to remove 98 percent morepesticides, waxes and other contaminants versus washing with water alone. Fitcomes in 12-ounce spray bottles and 32-ounce refills.

For those inclined to more homespun solutions, various combinations of commonpantry items work well, too. One recipe calls for soaking produce for fiveminutes in a 50/50 solution of white vinegar and water, while another calls forspraying fruits and vegetables with a combination of one tablespoon of lemonjuice, two tablespoons of baking soda and one cup of water. Meanwhile, ConsumerReports says that a diluted wash of dish detergent followed by a tap water rinseeliminates pesticide residues on most fruits and vegetables. After any suchtreatments, all produce should be rinsed thoroughly in plain water prior toeating or cooking.

Some analysts think that washing produce is not needed given strict Food andDrug Administration regulations about pesticide residues. "In the U.S.,there's very little produce with pesticide residues anywhere near the allowedtolerance levels," says Elizabeth Andress, a food safety specialist withthe University of Georgia's Center for Food Safety. "If you use a producewash, you may be reducing the levels of pesticide residues," she says,"but the levels were nowhere near harmful to begin with."

Nonetheless, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) says that theonly way to ensure avoidance of pesticide residues completely is to buycertified organic produce only. The majority of supermarkets in the U.S. stockpesticide-free organic produce for those willing to spend a few more pennies peritem. Consumers should note, however, that even organic produce should be washedbefore eaten, even if just to remove the impurities caused by human handling.

CONTACTS: Organiclean, (888) 834-9274, www.organiclean.com; Veggie-Wash,(800) 451-7096, www.citrusmagic.com; Fit Fruit & Vegetable Wash, (800)FIT-WASH, www.FitWash.com; EPA Booklet, Pesticides and Food: What You and YourFamily Need to Know, www.epa.gov/pesticides/food.

GOT AN ENVIRONMENTAL QUESTION? Send it to: EarthTalk, c/o E/The EnvironmentalMagazine, P.O. Box 5098, Westport, CT 06881; submit your question at:www.emagazine.com, or e-mail us at: This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

Last Updated on Saturday, 22 January 2005 17:57
 

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