When You Can't Go Organic
I am often confronted with this dilemma "Do I wait on line at Wholefoods or Trader Joe's or do I just buy an orange off the fruit stand guy which will take like 2 seconds." This article might seem like sacriledge in my naturopathic world but sometimes for one reason or another going organic is just not possible. Perhaps it is financial or lack of availability. I am not proposing that we abandon our efforts to go organic. Organic farming doesn't just benefit us but the planet and the workers who grow and harvest them as well. Also for my dairy loving omnivores sorry but buying organic animal products is the only way to go. If going organic is giving you a headache, here are some ways to still keep safe and healthy when going, dare I say, theand healthy when going, dare I say, the conventional route.
Stick with the "Clean 15"
An apple a day keeps the doctor away unless it is covered with neurotoxic chemicals and endocrine disruptors. This is why conventional apples have made their way to number one on the Enviromental Working Group's (EWG) dirty dozen list for past 3 years! EWG complies a list annually of produce based on their level of pesticide residues. Those lowest on the list are considered the "Clean 15." Luckily there are many fruits and vegetables that are lower in pesticides or have thick protective skins that are not normally consumed. So you can enjoy avocados, pineapple, asparagus, and kiwis without breaking the bank or a sweat.
Give it a Peel
Peels and skins are among the most nutrient-rich part of fruits and vegetables containing important phytonutrients which are powerful antioxants and have tremendous benefits. Unfortunately, the skins of conventional produce come with some unwanted foes: petrolium waxes and pesticides. Removing the peel helps to reduce and eliminate these toxins before they get into your body. This is important as many pesticides are toxic to the endocrine, nervous and reproductive system. Wax coatings contain mopholine, which when in the presence of excess nitrite, can be broken down into a known carcinogen.
Soak it in a Vinegar Bath
If removing the peel doesn't appeal, then you might want to give your produce a soak. A recent study looked at organochlorine and organophosphorus pesticide levels in conventional produce after using various soaking solutions: plain tap water, radish water, citric acid, hydrogen peroxide, and vinegar.
The 10% vinegar solution was shown to remove pesticides by 97% proving to be the most economical and effective solution in the study. It appears that acidic solutions in general favor pesticide removal. To prepare at home, use the ratio of 1 cup of white distilled vinegar to 1 gallon of warm water and soak your produce for 15-20 minutes. Afterwards rinse with tap water to avoid a vinegary after taste.
Wash your Produce with Your Dishes
Because most pesticides are not water soluble you are going to need something tougher that cuts through grease. So if you prefer to skip peeling or vinegar soaking, you might want to give you dish (preferably ecofriendly) soap a try. One study using cherry tomatoes concluded that dish soap was a practical way to remove pesticides. It found that washing the tomatoes for 15-20 minutes was was sufficient to remove 42-82% of pesticides. Increasing the number of washings and temperature of the water further increased pesticide removal.