We grow up believing that fruit is healthy for us … and the truth is, many of them are. Unfortunately, pesticides sit on top and contaminate many of them to the point where they may do just as much harm as good.
If you’ve heard of the “Dirty Dozen” and the “Clean 15,” you already know that some fruits and vegetables readily absorb pesticides through their skin more than others. And each year, a new list comes out with the worst offenders.
The truth about pesticides
Insects and weeds can be a huge problem for growers, and that’s why pesticides are used so abundantly. Spraying crops with pesticides is a crucial process in conventional farming — but they have some pretty scary side effects.
Pesticides are regulated, but that doesn’t mean they’re safe. They have been linked to chronic injury, reproductive issues, lung damage, cancer, and possible dysfunction of the endocrine and immune systems.
If you can’t find the organic versions of the following fruits, you may want to avoid them entirely.
Conventional apples are typically covered in pesticides. Sometimes they even top the Dirty Dozen list. Not only should the apples you buy always be organic, but you should also make an effort to only drink organic apple juice and cider.
In 2017, strawberries topped the Dirty Dozen list. And this wasn’t the first time … tests have shown they hold the residue of 10-21 pesticides. If you love strawberries, spring for the organic kind.
Grapes are another fruit to watch out for — they can harbor residue from up to 56 pesticides, eight of which are probable carcinogens. They also contain the polyphenol resveratrol, which is one of the most beneficial phytonutrients you can eat. Just make sure you buy organic grapes.
Nectarines are delicious, but every single sample of imported nectarines the USDA tested contained at least one pesticide. Buy them organic or local, and also do your own research and ask around at your local farmers’ markets.
The skin on peaches is a real pesticide-catcher, and sadly the fruit itself absorbs it. 96% of all peaches tested positive for at least one pesticide.
How to wash fruit
Eating solely organic fruits is not always possible. Your favorite fruits may not be available organic in your area, or buying organic-only may be out of your budget. In those cases, washing your fruit thoroughly is your best option.
Add a little white vinegar or baking soda to a large bowl or sink full of water and soak them for at least 15 minutes, then rinse thoroughly. Studies have shown that this will significantly reduce pesticide consumption. Still, if your produce of choice is on the Dirty Dozen list, you should always buy organic when you can.
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