Widely used in farming, pesticides fight crop pests and reduce competition from weeds. This improves yields and protects the availability & quality of the produce as well as promote the stability of prices – to the benefit of farmers and consumers.
However, the use of pesticides are toxic and may endanger health if ingested. And believe it or not, residue pesticides could inevitably be present in our fruits and vegetables. According to an article from NCBI (National Center for Biotechnology Information, US), four commodities (oranges, peaches, carrots, spinach) were analyzed for 20 pesticides and about 32% contained residual pesticides (Aktar, Sengupta, & Chowdhury, n.d.).
Washing your fruits and vegetables properly is key to protect yourself and safeguard your family from any potential chemical contamination.
So How Do We Wash Off The Residual Pesticides?
Rinsing with Running Water
Rinsing the produce under a running tap is one basic & first and foremost method. While under the running water, rub (you can also use a vegetable brush to scrub) them well to remove bacteria & pesticides from the surface. If there are soil still attached to the produce, make sure that they are cleaned thoroughly. You may rinse them under water in a bowl of fresh water thereafter.
It is not recommended that you soak the fruits and vegetables together in a bowl without rinsing first under the running tap as this may result in cross contamination.
Soak in Fresh Water + Baking Soda
For produce with a lot of surface areas such as blueberries, on top of rinsing with running water, you may want to give them a good soak after the rinse. Simply fill up a tub with cool water and add in a few tablespoon of baking soda. Soak the fruits and vegetables for 5 – 10 minutes. There’s no need to purchase expensive produce washes at all! Baking soda is odorless with mild alkalinity and it does the same job.
Peel & Parboil
Peeling off the surface of fruits and vegetables is probably most effect in removing the harmful substances. Of course, it is only applicable for produce with skin such as potatoes and apples. Parboiling essentially means partially cooking them in advance to kill off the harmful bacteria.
It’s easy! Use a stockpot, fill it up with fresh water and bring it to a boil over high heat. Then just place the peeled vegetables in the boiling water for a minute or so.
These tips may not be removing 100% of the residual pesticides but will certainly help in removing most of them before they get ingested.
Bibliography: Aktar, M. W., Sengupta, D., & Chowdhury, A. (n.d.). Impact of pesticides use in agriculture: Their benefits and hazards. , 2(1), . Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2984095/