It’s a great time to up the ante on eating healthy; however, many fruits and vegetables can be harmful if not properly treated, due to pesticides used in the growing and production process. Each year, the Environmental Working Group (EWG) unleashes its annual dirty dozen list. This list of foods should be on your radar because of the increasing amount of pesticide residue and poisonous gases sprayed on them. Fortunately, there are many options to aid in sanitizing the dirty dozen, so you can enjoy those amazing fruits and vegetables without hesitation.
Produce to have on your radar are strawberries, apples, nectarines, peaches, celery, grapes, cherries, spinach, tomatoes, sweet bell peppers, cherry tomatoes, and cucumbers. The EWG also lists what they call the “dirty dozen plus,” which are items frequently contaminated with insecticides that are particularly toxic to human health, thus promoting their “dirty dozen plus” status. With this idea in mind, have extra precaution with hot peppers and kale/collard greens. Just last year, strawberries were ranked number one on this dirty list for their contamination from pesticides, chemicals linked to cancer, and reproductive damage, as well as heart-stopping volumes of poisonous gases!
One option that will lower the chance of eating produce high in synthetic pesticides or harmful gases is to buy organic. Now let’s clear up the myth right away that organic automatically means “pesticide- and chemical-free”. In the U.S., organic crops are regulated to be grown with zero use of synthetic pesticides, bioengineered genes (GMOs), petroleum-based fertilizers, and sewage sludge-based fertilizers, but problems can still occur.
Finally, whether you prefer to eat organic or not, washing your produce is a MUST. Aside from pesticides and other chemicals used, whether natural or synthetic, there’s more to consider when washing off your strawberries, kale, or any other produce you enjoy. Think about the use of possible soil enhancers, fertilizers, bone meal, and worm castings. Don’t forget that all produce is handled by farming staff, market employees, and other strange hands throughout the day. Washing these items will reduce poor taste, unpleasant or harmful residue, dirt and nasty germs.
Freshen Up that Dirty Dozen:
Combine the ingredients below in a large bowl. The ingredients will bubble and fizz a lot after mixing, so make sure you use a big bowl.
• 1 cup water
• 1 cup white vinegar or cider vinegar
• 2 tablespoons lemon
Stir the mixture and then transfer it to a spray bottle. Spray on fruits and vegetables. Allow the mixture to sit for about five minutes. Rinse it off with water. Give items a final visual inspection.