No, it's not some cheesy 90's movie line or fake news with a side of fear. Sadly, it's true. There are pesticides actually in our fruits and vegetables. It's a part of them. These pesticides are called "systemic" pesticides. They're applied on the soil or on the leaves of plants, and is then absorbed into the plant, its leaves, and the fruits. The pesticides are meant to kill any bugs that eat the plants, leaves, or fruits. It stops infestations from growing and keeps crop yields at a higher volume. The problem is that they also kill beneficial insects like honeybees, earthworms, and ladybugs. All of these insects help our ecosystems flourish through pollination, land aeration, fertilization, and natural pest control. It's so bad that water droplets touching the treated leaves end up testing positive for pesticides. And worst of all, these pesticides don't just wash off. We end up eating them! The four major systemic pesticides are:
Imidacloprid can be applied to many vegetables (including tomatoes and leafy greens) the entire time until harvested
Thiamethoxam was first approved as a seed treatment for corn in the early 2000s. Thiamethoxam that's are applied to the soil can be used on most vegetable and fruits.
Clothianidin is used as a seed treatment on canola, cereals, corn and sugar beets, and as a soil treatment for potatoes.
Dinotefuran can be applied to soil or sprayed on leafy greens, potatoes, and cucumber family crops.
Basically, systemic pesticides are nearly everywhere in conventional (non-organic) fruits and vegetables. Now I'm sure not all growers will use these pesticides, but how can we, as consumers, tell? It's not like there are signs listing out what was used and when it was last used. Plus, there are plenty of studies linking pesticides and exposure to pesticides to chronic diseases like cancer, Parkinson's, asthma, and birth defects. There are studies linking hormonal damage as well. In fact, children and pregnant women are the most at risk. A child or fetus is not fully developed yet and is more susceptible to the toxic effects of pesticides. The weight to dosage ratio is another factor. This is a whole other topic we can discuss. The list is long. OK, fine. It's in our foods and it's bad. What now? Eat organic. Organic farms and orchards are tested for pesticides and herbicide levels. They practice sustainable farming techniques that promote a healthy ecosystems. Birds are chirping, bees are buzzing, and earthworms are burrowing in the dirt. These are common on an organic farm and these things are signs that there are no pesticides around to kill nature. Organic foods are not perfect though. Organic farmers can use pesticides too. Luckily, almost all of the pesticides that organic farmers use are natural in origin and already exist in our environment. Conventional farmers have access to over 900 different man-made synthetic pesticides. Pesticides and herbicides are a multi-billion dollar industry that's not going down without a fight. Organic farming has access to 25 synthetic pesticides too, but how, where, and when these are used is strictly regulated. It's not hopeless! Organic foods are still the way to go if you don't want to eat pesticides but you should also ALWAYS wash your produce. And, there are a few ways that have been scientifically proven to remove most, if not all, pesticides.
Running Water - Better than soaking in a bowl. The water pressure and runoff actually helps drive off a lot of the residues. 60 secs with clean tap water does the trick!
Vinegar - Studies show that soaking in vinegar works too. The experiments soaked produce in vinegar for 20 mins. That's a long time and vinegar is not cost effective. It can also change the taste of your food, but hey, it works better than just plain water.
Salt Water - Solid option here. A 10% salt water solution was all that was needed to help wash off pesticides. This was better than just water alone and didn't have the negative side effects of using vinegar.
Baking Soda - Best option tested. 1 ounce of baking soda mixed with 100 ounces of water. Soak for 12 to 15 minutes to remove all pesticides.
Some nutritionists will suggest a combination of these like vinegar, baking soda, and lemon juice all mixed up together. These can be good as well. Also, there are no conclusive studies that commercial pesticide washes or product detergents are better or more effective. Some believe that these detergents can leave their own untested residues. Overall, these washing methods can remove anywhere from 80% to just 10% of pesticides from the surface of your conventional foods, but should eliminate pesticides on the surface of your organic foods. I guess the next question is "where do all these pesticides go when we wash them off"? I don't know but I really hope it doesn't just end up in our oceans only to harm that ecosystem. Does it just go away over time or does it just linger on our earth until it kills? I hope someone out there is studying all this. In the meantime, go organic. Save you health, spare the earth. We only got one of each. =) More good stuff out there: