Typically in the agriculture world, we categorize all the toxic sprays which are used for crop-protection as Pesticides! However, these chemical compounds are used to avoid the weeds, fungus, insects and rodents to protect the crops or produce, but it has a very negative effect on the human health as these pesticides sticks to the surface of the produce or is absorbed by it and reaches the blood after consumption.
In the modern world, management of pest problem has become a common practice as pesticides are used everywhere whether in the agricultural field or at parks, forests etc. and this toxic substance when used not only have a negative effect on the environment but is very hazardous for health and the impact of this may be short-term as well as long-term.
Perhaps, things depend on our consciousness, if we want we can protect our body from all the adverse effects, by following few right habits to avoid pesticide residue in food. Though there are number of edible substances that we consume like wheat and rice which is used after lots of processing thus, very less pesticide residue is found on them, but the product that we consume daily i.e. the fruits and vegetables has no chance of processing and there we suppose to consume more of such toxic chemicals.
So, it is very important for the people to take steps to avoid pesticide residue in food by applying efforts before consumption of any fruits and vegetables.
Wash Fruits and Vegetables Properly
We all know that fruits and vegetables before getting ripe are attacked by the insects that usually feed on them and harm the cultivation. Therefore, it becomes very necessary for the farmers to spray insecticides and pesticides on the fruits and vegetables for safe cultivation. Primarily, in this process, some of the pesticides remains as the residue on the crops which is toxic enough to cause diseases like cancer, damage to nervous and reproductive system, birth defects and several other related to the immune system.
However small residue of this pesticide is not that health hazardous, but to reduce the risk of pesticides in fruits and vegetables depends on the consumers. According to the CSE, washing fruits and vegetables with 2% of salt water reduces the amount of pesticides residue from them. However, only a cold water wash is enough to get rid of extreme pesticides residues from food. We all know that people wash fruits and vegetables before consuming and that too with cold water, but I would like to highlight this for those who just takes it without washing or without properly washing.
Remember that the residue of pesticides and other chemicals that are used by the farmers accumulates on the outer surface of the plant and fruits, therefore, it is very necessary to wash it properly to avoid all types of harmful chemicals which can cause long term diseases in you after consumption. Even washing fruits in running water remove 85% of the hazardous residue and becomes suitable for consumption.
- Wash for 3-4 times whether fruits or vegetables before consumption.
- Washing with running water, warm water or water having 2% salt in it also helps to reduce the pesticides residue.
Many people usually prefer home sprays to wash fruits and vegetables which they think are very useful to avoid the pesticide residue in food and, therefore, good for their health, but this is basically more harmful than those pesticides that farmers uses in their crops. As the fruits and vegetables have very minute pores that very quickly absorb the soapy material and traps them, which perhaps becomes more difficult to rinse off and therefore, is found more hazardous to health. However, follow the steps given below to make the homemade cleaning sprays for fruits and vegetables.
- Add 1 teaspoon of salt in a bowl of water and let the produce remain in the salt water for few minutes and then wash it with fresh water.
- Add 1 teaspoon of white vinegar in a Bowl of water and let the fruits and vegetables sit in this solution for 10 minutes, then wash them under tap water.
Dry After Washing
Although washing the fruits and vegetables to avoid the pesticide residue is the first step, but you can also follow the other few after this to consume very less amount of chemicals in the food. We often find people washing the fruit and consuming it right that time. This habit is actually not wrong, but being a health conscious, if you spend a little more time before consumption it will not harm you at all.
After you have washed the fruits and vegetables, just dry them thoroughly, this will help you remove the remaining residue from the produce surface. However, one also need to see that the product that is being used to dry the produce is also clean. Paper towels are the best option, in that case, it is good for drying apples, strawberries, guava and vegetables like carrot, radish etc.
For, leaves and other types of produce that are soft, the salad spinner can be used to remove the fluid. After drying the fruits it is best to store them in the dry place.
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Peel Off the Outer Layer
In most of the fruits and vegetables, you can get rid of 99% of pesticides is like potato, carrot, radish, beet, one can reduce the chances of eating harmful pesticides with the food. As by peeling the outermost layer of these vegetables the pesticide residue layers are removed and therefore it reduces the chance of eating harmful pesticides along with the produce. However, often at the time of peeling you think that pesticides are gone, but the dirt present in the peeler, Knife transfer onto the fruits and vegetables to increase the risk. Therefore, it is also necessary to wash the peeler before using and the peeled produce before consumption.
Mostly, in the case of the leafy vegetables like cabbage and lettuce up to 2 layers of the leaf must be discarded to avoid pesticides residue, but remember to wash these leafy vegetables after chopping as the inner layers of this are also accumulated with the very little amount of the pesticides. Also, in most of the fruits, we basically remove the outer skin and this helps in avoiding the more chances of pesticides consumption.
Blanch Where Possible
Blanching is the process of scalding of vegetables in boiling water for a short time, however, this process is just not worthless as blanching slows down and stops the enzymatic action, cleans the surface of dirt and other bacteria and pesticides layers, retard the vitamins and also gives the vegetable bright color and flavor.
Vegetables like pumpkin, potato, beans, carrot cauliflower, broccoli etc. can be blanched to avoid pesticides residue. A few people also have the habit of using the left vegetable stock while cooking but never do this when you have blanched the vegetables, as it will again add the pesticides residue in your vegetable and will harm you.
The human beings also take flesh of animals accept the fruits and vegetables, but even the animal flesh that we take also depends on the fruits and vegetables that mean the pesticides are indirectly consumed by us. Therefore, it is very necessary to cook the food properly to remove the pesticide residue from the food. Not only the animal meat, but other products that we get from animals like egg and milk also need to be boiled and cooked properly.
Take Organic Produce
In few places, people deals in cultivation and often sells these products in the nearby market. If you stay in someplace like where seasonal fruits and vegetables and locally grown produce are sold then you can spend a little more and prefer that organic produce which is not only pesticides free but also very good for health.
However, the problem what survives here is the bacteria and the microorganism which sticks to the surface of the vegetable during the cultivation, handling and transportation. Even according to the Environmental Health Perspectives reports organic produce was associated with lower urinary dialkyl phosphate which probably is more harmful than the pesticides. Therefore, it is good to prefer the organic fruits and vegetables, but see that you clean them properly.
It is Better to have an Own Garden
However, the best alternative is having an own garden for vegetables and fruits. If you have enough space in your backyard you can plant small plants like cauliflower, cabbage, tomato, bitter guard, guard etc. so that you do not use chemicals and pesticides and empower your health. Cultivation in the own garden is also a very interesting task where you can plant a combination of vegetables and can also do terrace gardening which often provide enough for a small family.
Having an own produce garden also need to be taken care of continuously because the wind often carries harmful contaminants, thus, you need to sprinkle water all the time and see that you successfully avoid the pesticides residue in food.
I know these things will obviously take time but your health is more important in comparison to these efforts.