Dietitians urge us to eat more fresh greens, salads and replace sweets with fruits – they are much better for our health than sweets, chocolates, and biscuits. But noways agricultural products contain a lot of pesticides, nitrates and other harmful substances to store vegetables and fruits longer. Unfortunately fruits and vegetables are not so safe for health, as we would like them to be. To get more good than harm from food, we need to choose the right products.
Image Credit: ct.audubon.org/reduce-pesticides
The American organization Environmental Working Group (EWG) publishes a list of the most dangerous products annually. EWG analyzed 48 agricultural products and found out that about 70% of them were contaminated with pesticides.
What tests show
The researchers have discovered that most of the samples of 48 species of food grown were contaminated with pesticide residues. Pesticides didn’t go away even after the vegetables or fruits were washed, and in some cases even after peeling. This is 6.6% lower than in 2016.
36 thousand samples were tested. According to the results of the research, the Dirty Dozen of the most contaminated fresh products was distinguished, as well as the Pure Fifteen of fruits and vegetables that contain the least amount of pesticides.
Black and white lists:
- Dirty Dozen: strawberry, spinach, nectarines, apples, peaches, celery, grapes, pears, cherries, tomatoes, sweet peppers, potatoes.
- Clean fifteen: sweet corn, avocado, pineapple, cabbage, onion, peas, papaya, asparagus, mango, eggplant, melon, kiwi, cantaloupe, cauliflower, grapefruit.
What is so bad about it?
Pesticides are widely used in the production of food for pest control: insects, rodents, weeds, bacteria, mold and fungus. There are more than 1000 types of pesticides, each of them has different properties and affects human health differently. The human body is able to get rid of some of the nitrates naturally, but some of the harmful substances still remain.
According to the World Health Organization, pesticides can potentially be toxic to humans, have a negative effect on reproductive function, immune or nervous system, cause cancer and lead to other problems.
Many of the pesticides can remain in water and soil for many years. Some countries that signed the Stockholm Convention of 2001 banned the use of these harmful chemicals on their territory.
What can we do to get less harm
The greatest amount of pesticides is found on or in the peel of vegetables and fruits. Therefore, all products should be washed very well with a detergent that you can easily find almost in any store. But washing will help only to wash off a chemical film that protects the fruit from rotting, and those pesicides inside will stay. Pesticides are destroyed during heat treatment. But pickling does not work against them. Soaking in cold water will help a lot: an hour of soaking can help to get rid of half of the chemicals. Greens absorb harmful substances very easily, so it will not be superfluous to soak them in water for an hour too.
Of course, you can not think about such things as pesticides and eat all the fruits, vegetables and greens from the store. But the knowledge about how much these chemicals are dangerous for our health, does not allow us to ignore this problem, especially if you are cooking food for your children. Of course, the best way to stay safe is to eat organic food that you have grown by yourself. But if there is no such an opportunity, it is necessary to choose products from the white list for your health.
EWG’s 2018 Shopper’s Guide to Pesticides in Produce – ewg.org
Health topics Pesticides – who.int
History of the negotiations of the Stockholm Convention – Chm.pops.int